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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Study: Injury from seizures "rare"

9 November, 2004

A new study has
found a low risk of major injury from seizures, with the researchers
saying that most people with epilepsy do not need to excessively
restrict their daily activities to avoid injury.

The Mayo Clinic study, which will be published in the journal Neurology,
examined records of 247 patients diagnosed with epilepsy between 1975
and 1984. They found 62 injuries due to seizures in 39 patients. Eighty
per cent of the injuries were cuts, scratches or minor bruises to the
soft tissue on the outside of the head that did not cause serious
health consequences or prolonged absence from work or school.

Lead
investigator Dr Elson So explained that an accurate understanding of
injury risk for patients who have epilepsy not only affects the
patient, but also family members, schools, employers and the general
public.

"It
is important to find a balance between seizure precaution and the
freedom to enjoy life. Unnecessary restrictions of activity can
adversely affect quality of life, often to a more serious extent than
what seizure attacks can do. Ignoring the risk of injuries may have
disastrous consequences for some people with epilepsy. However,
overestimating the risk of injuries may unfairly impact on the rights
of those with well-controlled epilepsy."

"People
with well-controlled epilepsy should not arbitrarily be considered at
higher risk of injury than those without epilepsy. School authorities
and work personnel should understand that the risk of injuries from
seizures is very small in people whose epilepsy is well controlled.
It's comparable to or lower than the risk in many people without
epilepsy. It is unfair and illegal to deprive people with
well-controlled epilepsy of their opportunities to study or to work."

Dr
So explained that most previous studies of seizure injury rate looked
at patients treated for poorly-controlled epilepsy in epilepsy centres
or emergency rooms; these studies cited injury risk rates as high as
one in three patients. In contrast, Dr So's study was population based,
examining all patients with epilepsy in a given region and time period.