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Notice to Readers: National Epilepsy Awareness Month --- November 2007

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy, which currently affects approximately 3 million persons in the United States, is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures (1). Delayed recognition of these seizures and subsequent inadequate treatment increases the risk for additional seizures, brain injury, disability, decreased health-related quality of life, and death from injuries incurred during a seizure (2--4).

Although epilepsy can occur at any age, the condition primarily affects children and older adults (5). The number of cases among older adults is increasing as the U.S. population ages (3,6). The effects of epilepsy also can affect the transition to adult activities (e.g., driving and working).

The Epilepsy Foundation (EF), in partnership with CDC, is continuing a national campaign to use public education and programs that foster community awareness to improve the health care and community support available to persons affected by epilepsy. The theme for the foundation's program through 2008 is "Not another moment lost to seizures."

Campaign activities include school-based health-education programs, community workshops for diverse audiences, and training for older adults and their caregivers. In addition, EF has developed pilot curricula for police and emergency response personnel to increase recognition and appropriate management of persons who are having seizures and to reduce numbers of arrests of persons with epilepsy who are exhibiting seizure-related behaviors that are mistaken as other behaviors (e.g., perceived intoxication or disorderly conduct). To address the impact of head trauma on military veterans, EF is establishing a study group to outline public education programs and training for the Department of Veterans Affairs health-care system. EF also will implement a pilot comprehensive employment program to educate employers about epilepsy in the workplace. Partnerships with other national and local organizations have been established to provide programs in public education and community awareness; these organizations include the National Association of School Nurses, AARP, Community Health Workers/Promotores National Network, National Council of La Raza, National Center for Farmworker Health, and East Coast Community Health Centers Association.

Information regarding epilepsy and the national campaign is available from the Epilepsy Foundation by telephone, 800-332-1000, or online at http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org. Information in Spanish is available at http://www.fundacionparalaepilepsia.org or by telephone, 866-748-8008.

References

  1. Epilepsy Foundation; 2007. Available at http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org.
  2. Engel JR Jr. A greater role for surgical treatment of epilepsy: why and when? Epilepsy Curr 2003;3:37--40.
  3. Begley CE, Famulari M, Annegers JF, et al. The cost of epilepsy in the United States: an estimate from population-based clinical and survey data. Epilepsia 2000;41:342--51.
  4. Gilliam F. Optimizing health outcomes in active epilepsy. Neurology 2002;58(Suppl 5):S9--20.
  5. Hirtz D, Thurman DJ, Gwinn-Hardy K, Mohamed M, Chaudhuri AR, Zalutsky R. How common are the "common" neurological disorders? Neurology 2007;68:326--37.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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Date last reviewed: 10/25/2007

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