Supported by Epilepsy Action, National Epilepsy Week aims to raise awareness about epilepsy and gather support for people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a condition in which a person experiences recurrent seizures. Also referred to as 'fits', seizures are caused by a sudden increase of excess electrical activity within the brain. An increase in electrical activity within the brain is known as 'epileptic activity'. Excess electrical activity interferes with the normal function of the brain causing a temporary interruption of messages which pass between brain cells.
As the brain controls all of the bodily functions, how epilepsy affects the body will depend on the electrical signals being disrupted. The area of the body affected by epilepsy and how widespread it is will vary from person to person; the way people experience epilepsy is unique. Epilepsy is diagnosed after a person has experienced at least two seizures.
|Date||18th May -
24th May 2014
|Days To Event||69 Days|
|How Is Date Set?||Set each year|
As different parts of the brain can be affected by epilepsy (and also different parts of the body), there are many recognized types of seizure. Seizures are often classified based on the part of the brain where the disruptive excess electrical activity occurs. Focal seizures occur in specific parts of the brain whilst generalized seizures can affect both hemispheres (both sides of the brain).
In some cases, focal seizures can spread to other parts of the brain becoming a generalized seizure. Focal seizures can cause certain areas of the body to not function properly when the person is conscious; a person may experience movements or feelings and sensations they can't control. On some occasions, people may not notice another person experiencing a focal seizure.
Generalized seizures can be more dramatic. A person may lose consciousness whilst the muscles in the body stiffen and/or jerk. A person experiencing a generalized seizure may also fall down.
Over the years there have been different themes for National Epilepsy Week.
During 2009, the focus was on campaigning for members of parliament to improve epilepsy services throughout the United Kingdom. This theme was preempted by an earlier study which showed that 90% of politicians surveyed did not know how many people in the UK were affected by epilepsy (the figure is about 450,000 people). If most politicians were unaware of how widespread epilepsy is then how could they realize the importance of pressing for better support?
During 2010, a new epilepsy campaign, Upfront, was launched by Epilepsy Action. Upfront focused on raising awareness and support of epilepsy in young people. A survey was taken from young people with epilepsy; the results found that better information helped them deal with their condition.
Epilepsy Action has addressed this finding and offers advice on how young people with epilepsy can cope and manage better with this condition.
The theme for 2012 National Epilepsy Week Is 'Achievement' which coincides with the 2012 Olympics & Paralympics held in London. People with epilepsy are encouraged to submit their story about personal achievements they have made despite their condition.
For some, just going a day without a seizure will be an achievement, whilst climbing Kilimanjaro will be an achievement for another. These personal achievement will serve as inspiration to others that epilepsy does not always have to be so debilitating and achievement and self satisfaction can be obtained.
For more information, visit the National Epilepsy Week webpage.