Hannah Taylor (right)

Getting the word out about epilepsy

Purple Day reminds everyone that people living with epilepsy need understanding and acceptance

Campbell River teenager Hannah Taylor and her friends are breaking out the purple balloons and dressing in all-purple tomorrow.

That’s because March 26 is Purple Day, a day dedicated to spreading the word about epilepsy.

“We celebrate purple day to raise epilepsy awareness,” Taylor said.

Purple Day was founded in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia. She knew that other medical conditions had awareness days and she wanted to start one for epilepsy. She chose the colour purple because of its similarly to the colour lavender. Lavender is the colour associated with epilepsy awareness in Canada.

Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes a person to have recurring seizures. These seizures are caused by excessive discharges of electrical impulses in the brain. There are more than 20 different types of seizures.

Seizures can vary in frequency and severity. In some people with epilepsy, seizures happen only occasionally; for others, it may happen up to hundreds of times a day. Anyone can develop epilepsy at any age. In 70 per cent of cases there is no known cause.

“It’s important for people to know about epilepsy so that people with epilepsy feel supported,” Taylor said. “Also, if people know more about it, they will know what to do if someone has a seizure.”

Purple Day reminds everyone that people living with epilepsy need understanding and acceptance. Epilepsy is far more common than most people realize. In Canada, approximately 300,000 people have epilepsy and worldwide, approximately 65 million people have epilepsy. Despite its prevalence, epilepsy is often misunderstood and people with epilepsy can face social stigma and discrimination. Spreading the word about epilepsy and Purple Day will help dispel myths about the condition and remind people affected by seizures that they are not alone.

For more on epilepsy and Purple Day, visit www.purpleday.org.