Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Epilepsy man's 'thank you' for help during fit

By Stephanie Jones-Berry
November 10, 2010

A PENSIONER who had an epileptic seizure in Guildford town centre while waiting for a bus now wants to thank the people who came to his aid.

Graham Block, 71, had been visiting the RHS Wisley gardens to see the autumnal colours when a delay meant he arrived at the Friary bus station at 4.15pm last Wednesday (November 3), with an hour to wait for his next connection.

By 5.30pm, Mr Block’s usual bus had not arrived and the seizure hit as he was asking a member of staff what was happening. Mr Block said: “The lights were very bright, so I had a blackout. Bright lights, stress and camera flashes can bring on my blackouts. When this one came on I couldn’t get outside in time. I felt it coming on and got out my special card that I carry in different languages explaining my condition. A young lady and a bus inspector who were there were very concerned. The bus inspector arranged a bus to take me home to Wood Street. I just want to thank them both.”

The former insurance clerk has suffered with epilepsy since the age of 24 but said that in recent years the condition had become more manageable. He said: “I have had epilepsy for the past 47 years and in the last few years it has faded away. I used to have big fits, preceded by blinding flashes but I have learned to read the signs and now can usually get out in time to stop it happening. I still can’t go out in the evening – even a church hall has lights that are too bright.”

Louise Whalley, from charity Epilepsy Action, said: “We’re delighted to hear that people in the local community assisted someone who was having an epileptic seizure in public. It’s clear that the epilepsy awareness information this man was carrying was vital in getting him the help and support he needed. Carrying medical ID lets people know what to do in case of a seizure and informs medical professionals that a person has epilepsy. We would recommend that all people with epilepsy carry a medical awareness card with them. They may also want to consider wearing identity jewellery.”

Mr Block believes his condition may have been triggered by playing lacrosse as a young man. His wife, Janet, helps him to manage his medical condition as she is able to read the signals as well. Mr Block said: “She makes me go outside. Every Saturday we go to the supermarket and I often have to stand outside.”

Epilepsy Action provides a range of epilepsy awareness cards free of charge from



Thursday, November 4, 2010


Parents often feel frightened when they hear that their child had epilepsy. However, anticonvulsant drugs can prevent the occurrence of seizures in 75 percent of epileptic children. In the past, those diagnosed with epilepsy were thought to need lifelong drug treatment to prevent their seizures. The treatments used often had adverse side effects that precluded them from participating in normal social activities. However, new treatments and therapy protocols are available today. Ask your child's physician about any new options available for treatment.

Not Necessarily a Life Sentence

Today, pediatric physicians encourage children taking anticonvulsant medications, who have not experienced seizures for two years or beyond, to gradually reduce the dosage of medication to zero. Seventy-five percent of these experience indefinite freedom from seizures. Of these, a few have a chance of never having another seizure, while others have a 50 percent chance of having a future epileptic event. Only your child's physician can determine whether it's safe to taper off anti-epileptic medication, but if your child has been seizure free for over two years, ask your physician about this option.

Effective Treatment for the Most Common Type of Epilepsy

While childhood epilepsy occurs in many forms, the most common is absence epilepsy. With absence epilepsy, the child exhibits frequent episodes in which he will stop his current activity and stare blankly for 30 seconds or less. He then resumes the activity with no confusion and no recollection of the event. Until recently, physicians were uncertain as to which anti-epilepsy drug worked best to control this type of the disorder. The results of a clinical trial, managed by NIH Childhood Epilepsy Study Group, were released in March 2010. The study revealed that the drugs Zarontin and Depakote, ethosuximide and valproic acid respectively, are significantly more successful in controlling the seizures associated with absence epilepsy than others.

When Anticonvulsant Therapies Fail

Although anticonvulsant therapy can successfully control the seizures of 75 percent of epileptic children, this leaves a significant number of children for whom medication is not effective. These children continue to have several seizures on a daily basis despite medications, or suffer from debilitating side effects from the anticonvulsant drugs. While not new, treatment approaches do exist for these patients. One option involves surgery, which inactivates or removes the area of the brain that causes the seizures. The other requires that the child adhere to a high-fat diet that highly restricts carbohydrates for two years. After two years, the child can begin to gradually add carbohydrates back into his or her diet without the occurrence of seizures. While neither of these approaches is new, they represent valid options when others fail. Your child's doctor can determine whether he or she is a good candidate for these therapies.

Prognosis for Children With Epilepsy

Children with idiopathic epilepsy, epilepsy of an unknown cause, have a better chance of controlling their seizures with medication and going into remission as they approach adulthood. Approximately 40 percent of those with absence and benign epilepsy types outgrow the disorder. Even those with more severe classifications of epilepsy, which they are unlikely to outgrow, can often live active, normal lives with consistent and appropriate treatments.

Researchers and scientists regularly conduct clinical trials investigating new therapies and treatments for both children and adults with epilepsy. These include pharmacological treatments as well as investigations into possible environmental and genetic causes of the various classifications of epilepsy.

A Parent's Role in Seizure Management

Parents play a significant role in helping their epileptic child attain success in controlling seizures. Certainly this involves making certain medications are taken on schedule and in prescribed amounts. But parents must also provide moral and emotional support for their epileptic child. They can achieve this by educating the child about the disorder and helping him participate in appropriate social and physical activities to promote a feeling of normalcy and belonging.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Melbourne, 21st till 24th October 2010

The 8th Asian & Oceanian Epilepsy Congress (AOEC) which will take place in the exciting city of Melbourne, Australia from October 21st - 24th, 2010. This Congress has been organised by the regional organisations of the International League Against Epilepsy and the International Bureau for Epilepsy.



Sunday, September 26, 2010


An acrylic painting done by me titled "Hidden"
(Look for the hidden epileptic face)

Ever so often whenever I mention to someone I have epilepsy, almost all the time, I get this similar reply, " Oh! Epilepsy! I know what's that and what is the big problem/issue? You fall down for a while, bite your tongue while saliva foam from your mouth and within minutes you are up on your own, back to your normal self ". Having said that, these people tend to give me wondering and puzzled stares as if to tell me indirectly I shouldn't be worried or upset over having epilepsy. It's a minor and no fuss thing. These people think there is only one type of seizure which is tonic clonic (grand mal) that always have someone falling down in a state of seizure. They are definitely wrong because there are so many different types of seizures that can be categorized and sub categorized under grand mal and petite mal.

The whole thing boils down to these people not being in my medical shoes. And then they most probably never have thought of what if one day they themselves should develop epilepsy out of the blue. By not having epilepsy themselves, it is so easy for them to turn a blind eye and care less about the sentiments of people with epilepsy (PWE) and their carers. Must these people wait to be stricken with epilepsy in order to start finding out what it is all about? And having to live with epilepsy themselves to have a better knowledge and understanding of their fellow PWE?

These people should not be reckless to simply comment about something they have shallow or wrong knowledge about. I am always irked and put off by these peoples' insensitivity towards the feelings of PWE. If they know nothing about epilepsy, have a lot of uncertainties about epilepsy or have little to comment about epilepsy, it is best they learn to ask a PWE what epilepsy is all about. And if they can, bear the word "Epilepsy" in mind and do some finding and reading about it before they go round telling and describing wrong things about epilepsy.

Epilepsy awareness is so lacking in almost all places of the world. When PWE together with their carers, doctors, health experts and epilepsy advocates are trying their hardest to promote and increase awareness of epilepsy, NO THANKS to these misleading and heartless people who are wreaking much havoc to the success rate of epilepsy awareness.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Advanced acoustic monitor detects breathing difficulties

Epilepsy sufferers who risk suffocation during a seizure could be saved with a new small acoustic detector worn on the neck.

The device, which has been developed through the work of Dr Esther Rodriquez Villegas of Imperial College and Prof John Duncan of University College London, is being launched through a new Imperial Innovations venture.

According to Ervitech, the company behind the device, the instrument addresses the limitations of earlier acoustic breathing monitors by removing interference from background noise, speech and internal sounds such as heartbeats. These advances allow Ervitech’s device to achieve similar accuracy to other techniques that use expensive and bulky monitoring equipment.

Prof Duncan explained the 2cm by 1cm device, which is currently in prototype stage, incorporates a small microphone that detects airflow up and down the trachea of a patient. A microchip processes the acoustic signal and determines whether or not there has been a breath. A small radio transmitter beams the information to a base station that could be on a bedside table.

‘The signal could also be used to alert any number of mobile phones,’ he said.

Prof Duncan, who is a researcher of neuroscience, added that the prime motivation for the device was finding an appropriate health monitoring solution for patients with epilepsy. ‘We wanted to have a device that could reliably detect apnoea and to be able to do that in and out of a hospital environment,’ he said. ‘For some conditions, particularly epilepsy, somebody may have a sudden interruption of breathing that may kill them unless somebody’s on hand to resuscitate them.’

According to Prof Duncan, the device would be particularly helpful at night because it could alert a sufferer’s caregiver or partner, who might otherwise be asleep, if there is a problem.

The Ervitech team is currently conducting clinical trials of the device with patients who suffer from breathing disorders such as sleep apnoea. Prof Duncan said: ‘We’re just making sure it can detect different types of apnoea and also that it doesn’t have false positives.’ Assuming the results are comparable to ‘gold standard’ hospital breathing monitors, Prof Duncan said the Ervitech device could be widely available within two years.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010


I recall the good and happy days when I was an epilepsy support group co ordinator in our local epilepsy society. My friends and I looked forward to meeting up, telling and updating each other about our epilepsy condition. We were a small group which made sharing very easy and quick. We uplift and inspire each other to live life bravely and normally, doing everything as any normal being would want to despite our odds.

We talked constantly about the challenges that epilepsy threw on us and how each one of us intended to outdo and defeat it successfully. We also had our once a month small "eat-out" gathering at our regular gazebo located in a park. Each of us brought our contribution of food, snacks and drinks. At the shady green scenic spot, we were a merry lot. Sweet, splendid, happy and meaningful moments were exchanged, shared and treasured in our minds and hearts.

I have not been around in the epilepsy support group for coming close to 3 years because of family commitments but the moment situation permits I will be running back to it again.

Are you part of any epilepsy society near you? Do you join any as a member and involve yourself actively in it's programs and activities? If there isn't any epilepsy society near you, do you bother to sign up and register yourself as a member of one or more epilepsy societies on the internet? If you have not done any of these, do it now. Why wait? It is all for your own benefits that you become part of one. After all, epilepsy is about breaking free from shadows, fears, barriers and darknesses.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Solving the mystery of bone loss from drug for epilepsy and bipolar disorder

Scientists are reporting a possible explanation for the bone loss that may occur following long-term use of a medicine widely used to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. The drug, valproate, appears to reduce the formation of two key proteins important for bone strength, they said. Their study, which offers a solution to a long-standing mystery, appears in ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

Glenn Morris and colleagues point out that use of valproate, first introduced more than 40 years ago for the prevention of seizures in patients with epilepsy, has expanded. Valproate now is prescribed for mood disorders, migraine headache, and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare genetic disease that causes loss of muscle control and movement. Many SMA patients develop weak bones as a result of the disease itself, making further bone loss from valproate especially undesirable. Doctors have known about the bone-loss side effect, but until now, there has been no molecular explanation.

In an effort to determine why bone loss occurs, the scientists profiled valproate's effects on more than 1,000 proteins in the cells of patients with SMA. They found that valproate reduced production of collagen, the key protein that gives bone its strength, by almost 60 percent. The drug also reduced levels of osteonectin, which binds calcium and helps maintain bone mass, by 28 percent. "The results suggest a possible molecular mechanism for bone loss following long-term exposure to valproate," the article notes.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

6-year-old with Epilepsy wants to help others like her

By Kristin Bien (

Lyla Pratt serves up another glass of her lemonade to a garage sale customer. All benefits go to the Epilepsy Foundation. (WSBT photo)

NEW CARLISLE — Thousands of shoppers are heading to New Carlisle this weekend for Hometown Days, and there's a sale that's hard to pass up. It's a six-year-old entrepreneur with an old fashion lemonade stand. Lyla Pratt came up with the idea all on her own, and every penny she earns this weekend is going to a special cause — the Epilepsy Foundation.

"She has Idiopathic epilepsy which means they cannot find a cause for it, says Katie Brasseur. Katie Brasseur, Lyla's mom, says she was a normal baby until she was three. That was when she had her first seizure. You would never know by looking at her, but Lyla has some major health issues. So she is more susceptible to getting sicknesses, illnesses, bacteria in her system, she is frequently sick more. Which leads to her febrile seizures which causes problems with her development," says Brasseur.

That is why all the money earned at the garage sale this weekend will go toward treatment which in many cases is not covered by insurance. Lyla is doing her part too. She has set up a lemonade and cookie stand in the front yard. All the money she makes this weekend, will go toward the Epilepsy Foundation.

"She knows she has seizures and she asks will her brain get better sometimes. That is why she is doing the lemonade and cookie stand. She wants to donate to the Epilepsy Foundation she said, she says she wants to donate for kids with brains like hers," says Brasseur. Lyla has overcome a lot in her six years. But she has a long way to go.

"Epilepsy is dangerous and it can be deadly. In 2008 she was in postictal mode for about 24 hours. That is when she had a relearn how to potty train everything," says Brasseur. But her mom is not giving up. And neither will Lyla.

The garage sale and snack stand will continue through Sunday 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Central Time


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A Litany of Depakote Birth Defects that Are Not Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

July 13, 2010. By Jane Mundy

Seattle, WA: When Cindy was a teenager, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Her neurologist prescribed Depakote. "I became pregnant and wasn't told to stop taking the medication," she says. "My first child was born with a heart malformation and my second child was recently diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, but I didn't drink when I was pregnant."

A Litany of Depakote Birth Defects that Are Not Fetal Alcohol  SyndromeCindy (not her real name) says her daughter was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome because "she has six of the 10 facial characteristics" that define the syndrome. Sonja, another mother who took Depakote while pregnant, was also told that her son had fetal alcohol syndrome—but Sonja doesn't drink at all. Could other doctors mistakenly diagnose Depakote birth defect cases for fetal alcohol syndrome?

There is a litany of adverse events possibly connected with Depakote.

Susan (not her real name) has an eight-month-old son with an underdeveloped right ear. "He has no ear canal and is deaf in that ear and one side of his face is larger than the other," she says. Her son has craniofacial microsomia, a congenital disorder that typically affects the development of the lower half of the face, including the ears. It can lead to breathing difficulties and is the second most common facial birth defect after clefts.

Two other mothers reported that their children were born with cleft palates. "I took Depakote for seizure disorder before and during pregnancy," says Denise. "My baby was born with a soft cleft palate. He needed soft cleft palate repair surgery in 2008 and currently has a delay in speech development."

Kimberly says: "I was being prescribed Depakote for epilepsy and when I became pregnant I was taking 1500mg a day. When I phoned my doctor's office to tell him I was pregnant, he instructed me to continue the drug. A few weeks later I had a miscarriage."

Since Depakote was approved in 1983, the FDA has received six cases of developmental delays, including two siblings reported to have autism. The agency reviewers said it "raises concerns" (6/26/09), but then added, "Further study is needed to further elucidate causality and degree of risk of fetal exposure to (Depakote) and subsequent developmental delay in children."

The drug carries a black box warning alerting users to potential birth defects. Yet a recent study found that "Sodium valproate exposure during pregnancy more than doubles the risk for a major congenital malformation (MCM) in the fetus compared with carbamazepine or lamotrigine," which are also anticonvulsants frequently prescribed for seizures (July 2010: the UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register and preliminary results from the European and International Registry of Antiepileptic Drugs in Pregnancy).

The FDA recently sent a letter to neurological and obstetric health workers warning that valproate sodium (marketed as Depacon), valproic acid (marketed as Depakene and Stavzor), divalproex sodium (marketed as Depakote, Depakote CP and Depakote ER) and related products have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular malformations, craniofacial defects, neural tube defects and other major birth defects when taken by pregnant women.

Because neural tube defects often develop before a woman even knows she is pregnant, the FDA issued a further warning in December 2009 to "women of childbearing potential." But what about all the women like Cindy who took Depakote before knowing they were pregnant? Those women who were never warned about Depakote and never given the option of taking carbamazepine or lamotrigine?

I was one of these pregnant women who was prescribed a high dose of valproate sodium by my neurologist when I was pregnant. I wonder if it was known or unknown to my neurologist of the potential variable birth defects that could possibly be caused by depakote when he was increasing my depakote intake. He reasoned that it was apt to increase dosage strength to curb chances of seizures happening during pregnancy and since depakote had controlled my seizures well, a need to change my anticonvulsant drug was not deliberated. Thankfully my child was born normal.

Whilst it is important for neurologists to help epileptics lead well controlled seizure free lives by prescribing appropriate AED drugs, it is also pertinent that neurologists make known side effects of drugs to patients. On patients' part, patients must ask neurologists about pros and cons of drugs prescribed, read instructions and labels on packing of drugs and search/read up more information about drugs which can be obtained from medical websites, yahoo and google searches.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Young And Dynamic Epilepsy Advocate

Amanda is 17 years old. She has epilepsy for the past 5 years and she handles her condition with great courage and determination. She is a fine example of a teenager with epilepsy who does not allow seizures to affect her life in any way. She has a very inspiring blog about her condition and would love everyone to visit her and share their views and comments with her.

( Below is the introduction of her blog )

Dear Readers,

This blog is about my personal struggle and experiences with Epilepsy over the last 5 years. I will be writing to you about what I am feeling each day, and showing how Epilepsy affects my life. I have currently been implanted with a VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulator). Many people are skeptical and curious about this form of treatment, so I will be blogging with all the facts and side effects that I experience along my way to hopefully being seizure free. I see my Epilepsy as a gift from God, even when it's unbearable. I thank God everyday for blessing me with this disease. God gave me Epilepsy so that I may share it with the world. People need to be informed on what Epilepsy is and how it works. Epilepsy isn't just "a seizure disorder"... it becomes a lifestyle for those affected by it. I hope that you can learn at least one thing from my blog and be able to share it with others. Getting the facts is just one small thing you can to to help Epileptics around the world break the chains of Epilepsy.


(Having come to know Amanda and her academic achievements, I had her supportive co operation to write a short article to encourage epileptic students to move on with their studies despite the difficulties they face daily with having epilepsy. Below is her motivating and encouraging write up. Read, be inspired and uplifted - Serene)

"The unfortunate things about epilepsy is that many people let it stop their lives, and often times give up doing the things they love or things that they need to do. Many young students tend to feel as if they are too sick to keep up their studies, especially if epilepsy prevents them from being in school full time. I was and still am one of those students. Your education is the foundation that you will build the rest of your life on it and it is vital to have a strong foundation. Making it through those 4 years of high school or even college can seem impossible when you suffer from seizures.

I personally know a person who actually dropped out of school altogether because they felt their seizures were too much to deal with on top of school. If you look around your community you will find that many schools have programs for hospital bound and ill children living at home. You can have shorter school days or be taught at home with more time to finish your work at your own pace. Some schools are even willing to reduce the amount of work that a student must finish in order to graduate.

I took part in the Northside Independent School District Home Bound Program in San Antonio, Texas and it has benefited me so much. I am also starting to do some classes online at a local college to help myself move forward. Just because it's summer time does not mean that there aren't any ways to move forward in school. It is important to push yourself as far as you can each day because no matter how far away your goals may seem, they are never too far.

I am currently in my last year of high school and I never thought I would make it this far. Thanks to my home bound program I got plenty of rest and I was able to complete my classes in much better health. I encourage all students to use all resources made available for them in their communities because our future depends on what we do now as young students. " Don't Let Epilepsy Rule Your Life! " - Amanda.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Epilepsy? There's an app for that

A leading UK medical charity has turned to the iPhone to make young people more epilepsy aware.

The National Society for Epilepsy (NSE) has launched the app, which promises to offer essential first aid information, including a step by step guide to the recovery position, along with information about epilepsy.

"Epilepsy is the UK's most common serious neurological condition and it is likely that someone, at some time, might need to help a person having a seizure," said NSE communications manager Amanda Cleaver. "Epilepsy is a very complex condition which is surrounded by myths and misconceptions. Shockingly some people still believe you should hold a person down during a convulsive seizure and put a spoon in their mouth. There are around 40 different types of seizure. Not all seizures involve losing consciousness or convulsions. Knowing how to help someone can help reduce misconceptions."

"This app, the first of its kind for epilepsy, has been developed after consultation with students and we hope it will have particular appeal to young people. The app, Epilepsy Guide for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is released in time for National Epilepsy Week, which runs between 13-19 June. As the theme of the awareness week this year is epilepsy and young people we thought it was an appropriate time to launch the app," adds Amanda Cleaver. NSE is now looking at ways of further developing the app as a tool for seizure and medication management.

Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, Epilepsy Guide is free and requires the iPhone 3.0 Software Update or later.

NSE offers the following Epilepsy first aid check list:

Keep calm
Check your watch to note the time
Cushion the person's head
Put them into the recovery position after the convulsions (shaking) stop
Stay with them until they have recovered and their breathing has gone back to normal
If the seizure doesn't stop after 5 minutes, call for an ambulance
Don't hold them down
Don't put anything in their mouth
Don't move them unless they are in direct danger


Sunday, June 13, 2010

How family of epilepsy sufferer cope with five fits a day

Mia Loudon with mum Paula and big sister Amy

FIVE seizures a day are just one of the symptoms a Cinnamon Brow mum has to manage for her disabled daughter, who has an extremely rare brain disorder and epilepsy.

Six-year-old Mia Loudon was diagnosed with epilepsy aged two weeks and used to suffer from 15 to 20 fits each day. She had to have her stomach sewn aged two because each seizure led to her vomiting and choking, meaning she is now fed through a peg in her abdomen. She was fitted with a nerve stimulator, at the age of three Mum Paula, of Perth Close, said: “Mia has good and bad days and all of them are very different. She needs 24-hour care because epilepsy is so unpredictable.

“Having Mia’s stomach sewn was a big decision as we knew we’d never be able to feed her again. It was so sad because she used to really like eating.” To add to an already complex condition Mia, who goes to Fox Wood School, in Birchwood, also has CDKL5, which is associated with Rett syndrome, a disorder affecting mainly girls and women.

Although present at birth Rett usually goes undetected until regression occurs at about 12 months and children lose acquired skills. Those with Rett have profound physical and learning disabilities and are totally reliant on others for support throughout their lives.

Paula, who is married to 41-year-old Rob, added: “Not much was known about CDKL5 when Mia was diagnosed in 2005.

“She was only the second child in this country to have it and the 17th in the world. Having this makes the epilepsy very hard to control.”

Paula, who had to give up her job as a PA to take care of Mia, has another daughter Amy, aged nine, who has proved invaluable in helping take care of her little sister. Paula said: “Amy idolises Mia and can deal with a seizure. She has seen thousands of them but it’s awful to see her cry when Mia has a particularly disturbing one.”

The 35-year-old has built up a support network for dealing with CDLK5 which can be found by typing the condition into Yahoo.

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