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Notice to Readers: National Epilepsy Awareness Month --- November 2008

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy, which currently affects approximately 2.5 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, disability, decreased health-related quality of life, and, in rare instances, death (2--4).

Although epilepsy can occur at any age, the condition is more likely to begin in childhood or older adulthood (5). The number of cases among older adults is increasing as the U.S. population ages (3). The effects of epilepsy also can affect the transition to adult activities (e.g., driving and working). A multistate study by CDC indicated that approximately 1% of adults have active epilepsy, and many might not be receiving the best available medical care (1).

To improve the health care and community support available to persons affected by epilepsy, the Epilepsy Foundation, in partnership with CDC, is conducting a multiyear national campaign to use public education and programs that foster community awareness. The goal of this year's campaign, entitled No More Seizures, is to increase the number of persons with epilepsy who can achieve optimum control of their condition (i.e., no seizures or treatment side effects). To achieve this goal, basic education and empowerment messages have been developed to encourage persons with epilepsy to learn about new treatments, seek the care of specialists trained in epilepsy care, and discuss the management of their condition with their doctors. In addition, persons who have experienced seizures can access a new website (http://www.nomoreseizures.org) to partner with the Epilepsy Foundation and others in managing their treatment for the condition.

Other campaign activities include school-based health education programs, community workshops for diverse audiences, and training for older adults and their caregivers. In addition, the Epilepsy Foundation has developed pilot curricula for police and emergency response personnel and is evaluating a pilot comprehensive employment program to educate employers about epilepsy in the workplace. Their Epilepsy Resource Center supports consumers through online, telephone, e-mail, and regular mail services. 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, East Coast Community Health Centers Association, American Epilepsy Society, Police Executive Forum, and Hispanic Communication Network.

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

References

  1. CDC. Epilepsy surveillance among adults---19 states, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2005. MMWR 2008;57(No. SS-6).
  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: 11/6/2008

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