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Announcement: National Epilepsy Awareness Month --- November 2009

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy, which affects nearly 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).

In their day-to-day work, most law enforcement and emergency response personnel are able to recognize citizens who are experiencing seizures and provide the appropriate intervention steps for responding to a person during a seizure. On any given shift, however, some law enforcement officers unknowingly might encounter persons having seizures who appear to be confused, are unable to communicate, or exhibit behaviors inappropriate to time and place. Such persons having a seizure might not obey an officer's directives and unknowingly might become combative, resulting in inappropriate arrest, possible injury, and in some cases, death.

This year, the Epilepsy Foundation, in partnership with CDC, is conducting a national education and outreach program to educate and train law enforcement officers, police cadets, and emergency response personnel across the country to increase their recognition of seizures and promote safe and appropriate intervention practices for persons with epilepsy. The centerpiece of this effort is the First Responders Training Program, consisting of two modules. The first, the recently released Law Enforcement Training Curriculum, includes a brief presentation and a DVD outlining the vital steps in seizure recognition and first aid for law enforcement personnel. Approximately 30,000 officers have participated in the law enforcement training program to date. The second, a module designed specifically for emergency response personnel, will instruct first responders in seizure recognition and response.

Additional information about the First Responders Training Program is available online ( Additional information about epilepsy and the national campaign is available from the Epilepsy Foundation by telephone (800-332-1000) or online ( Information in Spanish is available by telephone (866-748-8008) or online (


  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.

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Date last reviewed: 10/29/2009


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