Epilepsy awareness at Marshall Medical Center

Epilepsy is a condition that affects millions of Americans and, as a part of Epilepsy Awareness Month, the Marshall University Medical Center held a symposium to inform the public about epilepsy.
The symposium was held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the Medical Center.
To be diagnosed with epilepsy, a person must have two or more seizures with an unknown cause.
“It can really affect your lifestyle,” said Erik Stephens, clinical coordinator of neurophysiology at Cabell Huntington Hospital. “A lot of people with epilepsy with seizures that are not controlled are unable to drive. Some people are embarrassed and live a life that is secluded.”
“There is something called SUDEP which is sudden unexplained death in epilepsy. It is an unfortunate event that we see every now and then,” Stephens said. “You shouldn’t take a bath if you have epilepsy. We have had patients who had took a bath and drowned from having a seizure.
Epilepsy does not have one exact cause. Oftentimes it is unknown why a person has epilepsy.
“There are different causes of epilepsy, some are idiopathic meaning no cause. They can be inherited as well, meaning genetic forms of epilepsy,” said Dr. Samrina Hanif. Epilepsy can also be caused from birth defects.
There are two types of seizures. Focal seizures are in one part of the brain and a person may feel a tingle in part of their body while having this type of seizure. Generalized seizures involve the entire brain. In a generalized seizure, a person may fall down and their entire body will shake.
Many treatments can be done to help a person who suffers from seizures. Such treatments include medications and surgery. What treatment is best is subjective, as it depends on a person’s situation.
Paws for Compassion trains dogs to be able to detect seizures. The group’s seizure assistance dogs are trained to sense when a seizure is about the happen in a person.
Anyone can get a dog. Usually, a patient will initiate and they will contact the company themselves, but it pays for the lifespan of the dog,” said Jessica Harrah, senior medical sales specialist for Eisai. The dogs have their own ways of signaling a person is about to have a seizure. Some will bark, others may whimper and others may put their paw on the person who is having a seizure.
Some epilepsy patients made artwork in a competition for the program and many of the pieces had an epilepsy theme. Some included purple ribbons, which represent the epilepsy awareness movement.
Currently there is no cure for epilepsy, there are just measures to prevent seizures and brain damage from happening.
Matthew Prandoni can be contacted at [email protected].