Becoming epilepsy aware
March is Epilepsy Awareness month and Epilepsy Australia states that 10% of the population are at risk of experiencing a seizure in their lifetime and 3-4% will go on to be diagnosed with epilepsy.
According to Epilepsy Action Australia while epilepsy doesn’t necessarily cause disability, disability is commonly the cause of epilepsy.
Northcott customer and Advisor on Inclusive Practice, Sevinc MacCue has mild epilepsy and says that though her seizures are infrequent, when they do occur they tend to have a lasting effect.
“I don’t really have epilepsy badly, but when I do have a seizure it makes me so tired,” she says.
While epilepsy can be severe in some cases, with the support of successful treatment options, others with the disorder can lead a relatively seizure-free life.
“One of the misconceptions about epilepsy is that it severely impacts your day-to-day life, but for me it’s not like that,” Sevinc says.
“Epilepsy barely affects me. I just take medication in the morning and evening.”
Witnessing a person having a seizure can be quite confronting, but there’s plenty anyone can do in this situation to ensure the person’s safety during the seizure. St John Ambulance advises not to restrain or move the person and do not put anything in their mouth. Instead, protect them from injury by removing any nearby objects that could harm them, place something soft under their head and shoulders and time the seizure.
“It’s best to just watch them and make sure they are safe and not hurting themselves,” Sevinc agrees.
After a seizure put the person in a recovery position, manage any injuries and calmly talk to them as they regain consciousness. Call triple zero (000) if the seizure lasts for more than five minutes, or is followed by a second seizure; the person is unresponsive for more than five minutes; or the person has been injured, has diabetes, is pregnant or has experienced a seizure for the first time.
For day-to-day management, the best thing you can do for yourself or a loved one with epilepsy is to be prepared.
“Place a card with the person’s name, address and emergency contact in their pocket or handbag/wallet; obtain a MedicAlert bracelet and place emergency contacts in the ‘favourites’ section of the mobile phone for easy calling during emergencies,” Northcott occupational therapist Ramona Odejayi advises.
For those with epilepsy, it’s also important to find ways to maintain good mental health and create beneficial social connections.
“People with epilepsy can benefit from relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and massage to reduce stress, and participation in support groups, leisure activities and hobbies that they enjoy,” Ramona suggests.