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Purple Day 2017: what is epilepsy and where does it come from?

Posted: 24/03/2017

Sunday 26 March 2017 is Purple Day, an international day to raise awareness and support of those living with epilepsy. But what is epilepsy and how is it caused?

Epilepsy is a condition affecting the brain, as a result of which a person may suffer from epileptic seizures.  When people think about epilepsy, they often picture someone collapsing to the floor without warning and convulsing. While these types of seizures do occur, they can nonetheless take many different forms, including absence seizures, which are much more subtle, when a person may seem to be daydreaming or ‘switching off’ to the world around them.

Just as epilepsy-related seizures come in many forms, epilepsy also has many causes, such as:

  • stroke;
  • a brain infection, such as meningitis;
  • severe head injury;
  • a lack of oxygen at birth.

Many of our clients who have cerebral palsy, as a result of a mismanaged labour and/or neonatal treatment, develop epilepsy. The limitations that this condition places on their lives can be very significant and the severity of the epilepsy can increase and decrease over their lifetime.

Living with a child with epilepsy can be a frightening experience for a parent, especially if that child is prone to seizures overnight, as they may happen without the parent’s knowledge. These children may therefore require careful night-time monitoring, which can be exhausting for parents who may be dealing with significant daytime care needs as well.

Managing the medication of an individual with epilepsy can be a very delicate process, with changes as subtle as the timing of epilepsy medication around the provision of food, or removing other, seemingly innocuous, medications, sometimes making all the difference in bringing a period of increased seizure activity under control. Obviously, specialist care from a paediatric neurologist is vital to making sure that optimum seizure control is established.

The epilepsy nurse can also have a very important role in supporting parents who are looking after children with epilepsy, providing a contact point for them to have specific epilepsy related concerns dealt with quickly, and for continuity in their care.

Penningtons Manches has significant experience of pursuing claims for individuals who suffer from epilepsy, making sure that individual needs arising from their condition are considered by the correct specialists, and the correct treatment, equipment or support is recovered in their claim.

Helen Hammond, an associate in the clinical negligence team in the firm’s Basingstoke office, comments: “I have dealt with a number of claims brought on behalf of children with very complex epilepsy and have nothing but admiration for the dedication that I have seen from their parents in tending to what are often very complex needs and medical regimes. As a result, I make sure that anything that can reasonably be claimed from the defendant to make these children’s lives easier is secured for their future.”

If you have concerns that you or a family member have developed epilepsy as a result of possible negligent medical treatment, please contact Helen Hammond or another member of Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team.

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