Campaign tries to educate public on epilepsy disorder

By Amanda Martin

The Epilepsy Association of DeKalb has launched an education and awareness campaign to coincide with the beginning of November as National Epilepsy Awareness Month.

The association will sponsor several local radio spots and displays in local DeKalb and Sycamore libraries throughout the month in hopes to educate the public and clear some of the misconceptions about epilepsy.

Cara Witkowski, executive director of the DeKalb association, said many people are not really aware of what the disorder entails.

“Some employers are reluctant to hire persons with epilepsy, and some teachers are even reluctant to allow students with epilepsy to participate in sports,” Witkowski said. “There are ways to treat epilepsy now, and aside from those few moments (when an epileptic is experiencing a seizure), they can lead very normal lives.”

According to the Epilepsy Foundation of America, seizure disorders, more commonly referred to as epilepsy, affect more than two million Americans. A large number of adults and children have undetected or untreated epilepsy.

Foundation member Ron Sereg said, “It’s important to realize that epilepsy is not a disease, but a disorder of the brain. Anyone can suffer from epileptic seizures at anytime, anywhere. Many cases result from injuries to the head in motorcycle and automobile accidents.”

According to the foundation, the cause of 70 percent of diagnosed cases is unknown. The remaining 30 percent are most frequently attributed to head trauma, strokes and infections such as Meningitis and enviral encephalitis.

Sereg said 85 percent of cases are now controlled with medication as compared with 50 percent 10 years ago.