Epilepsy

The disorder of the electrical patterns of the brain is known as Epilepsy and gives rise to fits occurring when the electrical activity of the affected part of the brain becomes abnormally over active. This disordered electrical activity may have arisen as a result of a head injury, a stroke, drugs or excess alcohol or accompany cerebral palsy, but in 75% of patients no obvious cause can be found.

Epileptic seizures or fits can be convulsive or generalised. Convulsive seizures are more common and involve loss of consciousness and motor control often with jerky movements. This results from an acute or generalised disturbance in cerebral function. Generalised seizures involve both loss of consciousness and motor function from the onset, arising from a deep part of the brain, with the cause of the seizure being usually genetic or metabolic.

Treatment is not always necessary if there is only one episode of fitting, however if the fits reoccur it is essential to stabilise the electrical activity of the brain to try and prevent further fits. It is essential that treatment is taken seriously and an EEG can help to provide information that will show if the electrical activity is under control. Without this it can be dangerous to drive a car for example, as there could be little or no warning as to when a fit may occur. In some extreme cases surgery, to remove or cut off the area of the brain where the abnormal activity occurs, has proved highly successful. Nowadays it is possible for an epileptic to lead a perfectly normal and active life.

If an epileptic wanted to pursue swimming or running for example, it would be a good idea to involve a friend who could be shown want to do in the event of a fit, at the same time turning the occasion into a social event. Further information can be got from the Help Line 0800 30 90 30.

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