What is epilepsy?

According to the Mayo Clinic, epilepsy is a “central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.” Epilepsy affects people of all genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, and ages. Seizure symptoms can vary widely and seizures can affect any process a person’s brain coordinates. Epilepsy has no identifiable cause in about half the people with the condition. In the other half, epilepsy may be traced to various factors, among them genetic influence, infectious diseases, prenatal injury, and developmental disorders. Risk factors for epilepsy include age, family history, head injuries, stroke and other vascular diseases, among others. Complications include falling, drowning, car accidents, complications during pregnancy, and emotional health issues.

To diagnose epilepsy, your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history and may order several tests, such as blood tests or computerized tomography (CT) scans to diagnose and determine the cause of seizures. Treatments for epilepsy include medication, surgery, and therapies that include vagus nerve stimulation, a ketogenic diet, and deep brain stimulation. Researchers are studying many potential new treatments for epilepsy. These treatments include minimally invasive surgery, external nerve stimulation devices, and more.

Over the years, NIDILRR has funded projects that research various aspects of and around epilepsy. NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 500 articles from the NIDILRR community and beyond that are focused on epilepsy. They also searched NARIC’s collection for international articles and found various articles from the international research community. If you would like to learn more or are looking for resources, please contact NARIC’s information specialists by calling 800/346-2742, email, chat, or social media.

Please note: If you think you or someone you know may have epilepsy, please contact your primary care physician right away. If you witness someone having a seizure, contact 911 right away, and ask the dispatcher to guide you through helping the person until emergency personnel arrive.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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