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Epilepsy Facts & Stats – Epilepsy Frequently Asked Questions

Epilepsy is a generic term for a variety of seizure disorders. A person with two or more unprovoked seizures is typically diagnosed with epilepsy. A seizure is a brief disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain. 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime.
A seizure is a single occurrence, whereas epilepsy is typically characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures. You can have a seizure without having epilepsy.
One in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their life, and 1 in 10 will experience a seizure. There are more than twice as many people with epilepsy in the U.S. as the number of people with cerebral palsy (500,000), muscular dystrophy (250,000), multiple sclerosis (350,000), and cystic fibrosis (30,000) combined. It affects three million Americans of all ages. Approximately 200,000 new cases of seizures and epilepsy occur each year.
In up to 70% of cases, the cause is unknown. For the remaining 30%, causes may be from infections, fevers, brain tumors, stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain malformation, and more. Some forms of epilepsy are genetic. Epilepsy is never contagious, and it is impossible to get it from or give it to another person.
Epilepsy is treated with medications, surgery, devices, or a special diet. Medication therapy is the most common and is often the first treatment option. A number of epilepsy medications are currently available. These medications control different types of seizures. A seizure-prevention medication (also known as an antiepileptic or anticonvulsant drug) will not work properly until it reaches a certain level in the bloodstream, and that blood level must be maintained. This means that the medication needs to be taken as prescribed by the doctor.
Approximately 500,000 Americans receive medical care that successfully controls their seizures without complications. However, approximately one million people do not find relief from their seizures and/or experience treatment side effects.
Contact the Epilepsy Foundation Texas for more information at 888-548-9716 or info@eftx.org.

A seizure dog is a dog that has learned how to respond to a seizure in someone who has epilepsy. Seizure dogs are trained as service animals for people with seizures. Therefore, the law protects people’s right to use service animals in public places. Service dogs are trained to do a variety of tasks including barking to alert caregivers when a seizure occurs, moving in a way to protect the person having a seizure, or activating an alarm.

To find a list of places that train service animals for individuals with seizures, go to Epilepsy & Seizures 24/7 Helpline Resources here.

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. In general, they pay monthly cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability.

Benefits usually continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis. There are also a number of special rules, called “work incentives.” These provide continued benefits and health care coverage to help you make the transition back to work.

Visit ssa.gov to learn more

Some epilepsies can be treated with medical devices. Some common devices used to control seizures are the VNS and RNS devices.

  • VNS Therapy – Vagus Nerve Stimulation
    • VNS Therapy consists of a device placed under the skin near the collarbone in the left side of the chest. An electrode attached to the generator is then connected to the vagus nerve in the left side of the neck.
    • Programmed stimulation is delivered from the generator in the chest to the vagus nerve. Settings are adjusted by a nurse and doctor trained in VNS Therapy. A magnet is also used to trigger bursts of stimulation when a seizure happens.
    • Visit http://bit.ly/VNStreatment to find out more.
  • RNS Therapy – Responsive Neurostimulation
    • The RNS® System is a smart device that is adjustable and reversible. Where it is placed and how it is used is tailored to each person. It learns what is going on in a person’s brain, and settings can be adjusted for each person.
    • Most comprehensive epilepsy centers that provide epilepsy surgery also offer the RNS® System. Before having the RNS placed, a person must go though detailed testing to see where their seizures begin in the brain.
    • Visit http://bit.ly/RNStreatment to find out more.
  • Texas Workforce Commission
    • “TWC’s Civil Rights Division’s programs provide an avenue for current and former employees (or people who applied for employment) to file a complaint if they believe they have been discriminated against in an employment transaction. We are here to assist you if you believe the treatment you received from the employer was because of your race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, disability, or because of retaliation for participating and/or filing another discrimination complaint.
    • The Civil Rights Division conducts neutral investigations and gathers information to determine if discrimination has occurred under the Texas Labor Code. We work in cooperation with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to resolve employment discrimination allegations.”
    • Visit https://bit.ly/1UDWXrU to find out more.

Know The Hidden Signs of Epilepsy in Children

Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that can be difficult to detect in young children. Not all seizures are convulsive – there are many types of seizures that children or adolescents experience. Some signs appear to be normal behavior and may last a very short time.

Some signs to watch for in small children include:

  • Short attention blackouts that look like daydreaming
  • Sudden falls for no reason
  • Lack of response for brief periods
  • Dazed behavior
  • Unusual sleepiness and irritability when wakened from sleep
  • Head nodding
  • Rapid blinking
  • Frequent complaints from the child that things look, smell, sound, taste or feel “funny”
  • Clusters of “jackknife” movements by babies who are sitting down
  • Clusters of grabbing movements with both arms in babies lying on their backs
  • Sudden stomach pain followed by confusion and sleepiness
  • Repeated movements that look out of place or unnatural
  • Frequent stumbling or unusual clumsiness
  • Sudden repeated episodes of fear for no apparent reason
  • Early Detection is Key
  • Early recognition and treatment of children who experience seizures is important to prevent further problems. Undiagnosed seizures can lead to:
  • Learning disabilities, as brief blackouts make it difficult to follow instructions and impede understanding at school.
  • Safety risks, because a sudden loss of awareness in certain situations, (swimming in a pool, climbing a tree) can lead to serious injury.
  • Behavior problems, as the child experiences feelings that are difficult to communicate and may act out.