Hannah Taylor (centre)

Epilepsy awareness goes global on Purple Day March 26

Did you know that there are approximately 40,000 people in BC and 400,000 of people in Canada with epilepsy?

Did you know that there are approximately 40,000 people in BC and 400,000 of people in Canada with epilepsy?

Though this number may seem small, this means that epilepsy is more common than Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and Cerebral Palsy combined.

Epilepsy Awareness Month happens in March of each year in Canada. March is also the month in which Purple Day occurs. This is on Tuesday (March 26) and is a global day for epilepsy awareness.

Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes a person to have recurring seizures. Epileptic seizures are caused by excessive discharges of electrical impulses in the brain.

There are more than 20 different types of seizures. Seizures can be convulsive or non-convulsive. For example, partial seizures may involve the person being in a trance-like state, experiencing altered sensations, having uncontrolled movements, or being unable to speak.

Generalized seizures, such as tonic-clonic seizures (previously called grand mal) cause loss of consciousness and shaking of the entire body.

Anyone can develop epilepsy at any age. In the majority of cases, the cause is unknown. As well, in most situations the condition is not outgrown. There is no cure and approximately 30 per cent of people with epilepsy do not have their seizures controlled by medication.

The severity of epilepsy can vary. Some people can have as many as hundreds of seizures a day while others may have only one every few years.

Some people with epilepsy may face discrimination, unnecessary restrictions, or exclusion from work or school activities.

For children with epilepsy the fear of bullying or social isolation can be the one of the most difficult issues they face.

“Some people with epilepsy can become isolated and as such they do not receive the supports that they need,” states Elvira Balakshin, Program and Communications Coordinator of the BC Epilepsy Society. “The public can help people with epilepsy by learning proper seizure first aid, how to recognize seizures, and basic facts about epilepsy.

“If you know or meet someone with epilepsy or a parent of a child with epilepsy, ask them how you can help – everyone with epilepsy is unique.”

More information about epilepsy and the BC Epilepsy Society is available on www.bcepilepsy.com

The BC Epilepsy Society is a non-profit, charitable organization established in 1959.

It provides education, advocacy, and support to people with epilepsy and their families.