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What is Epilepsy?
 The word epilepsy derives from the Greek verb epilambanein, meaning to be seized, to be
overwhelmed by surprise.
 Epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder in the world (International League
Against Epilepsy) with 50 million people around the planet having some type of Epilepsy.
 Epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable disorder of the brain that affects people of all
ages. (WHO)
 Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes seizures. (CDC)
 Any of various disorders marked by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain and
typically manifested by sudden brief episodes of altered or diminished consciousness,
involuntary movements, or convulsions. (Merriam-Webster).
 There are many different types of epilepsy, including West Syndrome, Doose Syndrome,
Benign Rolandic Epilepsy, Rasmussen’s Syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Landau-
Kleffner Syndrome, Sturge-Weber Syndrome, Juvenile Myoclinic Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe
Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Parietal Lobe Epilepsy, and Occipital Lobe Epilepsy.
The History of Epilepsy
 Reports of epilepsy date back thousands of years, one of the earliest being 1780
B.C. in the Hammurabi code, which stated that a person with epilepsy could not
marry or even testify in court.
 Many religions for hundreds of years believed epileptic people to be demonic
and possessed, even prone to violence and contagious.
 Hippocrates, in 400 B.C. wrote about the previous superstitions being false
because “the gods do not make men’s bodies unclean . . . Its cause lies in the
brain . . . Therefore, epilepsy can and must be treated not by magic, but by diet
and drugs.”
 In the early 19th century, French physicians such as Maisonneuve, Calmeil, and
Esquirol researched and published work in epileptology. They stressed the
importance of hospitalization of epileptic individuals.
 Proof of epilepsy deriving from the brain is credited to psychiatrist Hitzig and
physiologist Fritsch in the 1880s.
 In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many treatments started to be tested,
including starvation, electric shock therapy, and more.
The History of Epilepsy (Cont.)
 Jean Pascal Gastaut worked to discover the significance of EEG. He also
opened the first school for epileptic children in France in 1958.
 Until 1980, it was still illegal for people with epilepsy to get married in several
states. The law that prohibited marriage in epileptic individuals in the UK was
repealed in 1970. Some parts of the world still prohibit marriage to epileptic
 In 1956, 18 states provided for sterilization, on eugenic grounds, of people with
 Until the 1970s, it was still legal in the United States to deny persons with seizures
entry to public places such as restaurants, theaters, etc.
 It was not until 1990 that the ADA started to prevent such discrimination.
 Famous people in history with epilepsy include Alexander the Great, Peter the
Great, Julius Caesar, Richelieu, Charles V, Joan of Arc, Händel, Berlioz, Flaubert,
Petrarch, Byron, van Gogh, Dostoevky, and Gershwin.
What Causes Epilepsy?
 One or more genes may cause the epilepsy or epilepsy may be caused by
the way some genes work in the brain. The relationship between genes
and seizures can be very complex and genetic testing is not available yet
for many forms of epilepsy.
 About 3 out of 10 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may also have
seizures. The exact cause and relationship is still not clear.
 Infections of the brain, strokes, tumors, and sever head injuries can also
cause epileptic seizures.
 Problems with neonatal care or birth can cause epileptic-like seizures. This
includes brain malformations, lack of oxygen, maternal drug use, etc.
 Febrile seizures are not a form of epilepsy sometimes happen in children
ages 6 months to 5 years. They can, however, pose a greater risk of
epilepsy, especially with longer lasting seizures.
Types of Seizures
 Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain.
 Absence seizures, sometimes called petit mal seizures, can cause rapid blinking or a few
second of staring into space.
 Tonic-clonic seizures, also called grand mal seizures, can make a person cry out, lose
consciousness, fall to the ground, or have muscle jerks or spasms. People often feel tired
after this type of seizure.
 Focal seizures are located in just one area of the brain, also called partial seizures.
 Simple focal seizures affect a small part of the brain, can cause twitching or a change in
sensation, such as a strange taste or smell.
 Complex focal seizures can make a person with epilepsy confused or dazed, making
them unable to respond to questions for up to a few minutes.
 Secondary generalized seizures begin in one part of the brain and then spread to both
sides of the brain.
Medications for Epilepsy
 Brivatacetam  Pregabalin
 Carbamezapine In general, people with
 Primidone
 Felbamate
epilepsy only respond well to
 Rufinamide treatment about 80% of the
 Clobazam
 Topiramate time.
 Clonazepam
 Ezogabine
 Diazepam Nearly 80% of people with
 Phenytoin
 Gabapentin epilepsy live in low income
 Perampanel countries and about ¾ of
 Lacosamide
 Oxcarbazepine people with epilepsy never
 Lamotrigine
 Ethosuximide get any treatment.
 Levetricatem
 Lorazepam
Life with Epilepsy. . .
 Children with epilepsy can have trouble learning for various reasons, including often
having other learning disabilities.
 Children with epilepsy also have a higher risk of developing depression and/or
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder compared with their peers.
 Children are especially vulnerable to the emotional problems caused by ignorance or
the lack of knowledge among others about epilepsy. This often results in
stigmatization, bullying, or teasing of a child who has epilepsy.
 Depression is common among people with epilepsy. It is estimated that one of every
three persons with epilepsy will have depression in the course of his or her lifetime,
often with accompanying symptoms of anxiety disorder.
 Most states will not issue driver’s licenses to people with epilepsy.
 Although discrimination against people with epilepsy is illegal, certain medications
can have side effects that interfere with memory and concentration, making working
or being in a classroom difficult.
That’s All
Folks! 