It Is Time to Get Seizure Smart
November 1, 2011
America: It’s Time to Get Seizure Smart! What You Learn Could Save a Life
By Tony Coelho, Epilepsy Foundation Interim CEO and
Howard K. Koh, M.D., MPH, Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services
If you saw someone having a seizure on the street, would you know what to do? If you are like most Americans, your answer is probably “no.”
November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, affecting at least two million Americans of all ages.
Get Seizure Smart is a grassroots initiative led by the Epilepsy Foundation, aimed at teaching people – from school children to first responders – how to respond to seizures. Many people still think you should put a spoon in the mouth of someone having a seizure, but that is untrue. You should never put anything in the mouth of someone having a seizure. Certain things you can do to be helpful include: Putting something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head; clearing the area of anything hard or sharp; and turning the person gently to one side, to help keep the airway clear.
This year alone, about 150,000 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy, a condition frequently characterized by seizures, some of which are fatal. Some people live well with controlled seizures, while others – approximately one-third of those affected – have a condition that may be resistant to medical treatment.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is funding an Institute of Medicine study to examine all the critical dimensions of this complex public health issue. Because there are more than 100 types of epilepsy, the study will focus on the whole spectrum of related disorders, as well as many of its co-existing conditions, such as depression, anxiety, migraine and autism. When the final report is issued next year, it will recommend priorities for action, so that America can better meet the needs of people living with epilepsy, including caregivers.
National Epilepsy Awareness Month and the Get Seizure Smart campaign can shine a light on a disorder that has been misunderstood for too long. Visit www.GetSeizureSmart.org and take the interactive quiz to learn more about epilepsy and seizures.
What you learn could save a life.