The Epilepsy Foundation released important information about epilepsy and seizure disorders to dispel prevalent myths in the wake of recent news about Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass).
Senator Kennedy, 76, one of the longest-serving members of the U. S. Senate, reportedly experienced a seizure on Saturday. A seizure is a disturbance in the electrical activity in the brain. One in ten Americans will have a single seizure at some point in their lives. A person who has two or more seizures from an unknown cause is said to have epilepsy. More than 3 million Americans have epilepsy. Although epilepsy can strike anyone, of any background at any time, it primarily affects the very young and the very old.
"The occurrence of new onset seizures in adults is quite common," said Page B. Pennell, MD, Chair-elect of the Epilepsy Foundation's Professional Advisory Board. "And such an occurrence is even more likely after the age of 60."
Epilepsy comprises a family of more than 40 syndromes; it is third most common neurological disorder in the United States after Alzheimer's disease and stroke. There is no known cause for 70 percent of all the cases of epilepsy and large numbers of people live with undiagnosed or untreated epilepsy.
"The good news is that most people can recover from seizures fully and be able to return to their normal daily functions and responsibilities without any difficulties," said Eric R. Hargis, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. "Just like Chief Justice John Roberts and former Congressman Tony Coelho, the primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, did. Unfortunately, the most difficult part of living with the condition for many is the way they're treated once others become aware of it. One of our goals is to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences, so dispelling the myths and erasing the stigma are essential for us."