Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kids and Epilepsy

More than two and a half million Americans are living with reoccurring brain seizures from what is commonly called 'epilepsy' and as many as ten percent are children.

Six year old Haley Smith's first seizure arrived before her first birthday and continues to this day. Her family is working to raise awareness for this often misunderstood condition.

You never know by looking at Haley that she has any health issues. But this little girl has weathered hundreds of convulsive seizures. Cathy Smith, whose daughter is living with epilepsy, says, "The third one came and they said as an epileptic she's going to have to alter her life. "

Epilepsy is broad term to describe recurrent, but unprovoked brain seizures like Haley's. They occur as often as several times a month. Haley has an implant to help control them and takes medication. Haley's mom, Cathy, says, "You talk to your friends and your family and they are supportive as they can be, but they don't really understand it until it happens to them: How frightening it can be, how life altering it is."

Doctor Ehrreich is Haley's neurologist at Children's Hospital and he says, "A lot of the patients don't have seizures that are severe, but of the ones we can't control with medication, it becomes extremely difficult for families."

Children's Hospital in Madera is hosting a day long learning experience this Saturday for patients and parents, as well as their extended family members.

Dr. Ehrreich says, "I think it helps if they know what it is and what to do in the case of a seizure." Educators and health care workers can also benefit.

Cathy Smith believes everyone who attends will find new insight into this treatable condition and new avenues of support. She says, "There's someone else out there going through the same thing and there's lots of different ways to connect."

The Day of Hope event this Saturday is free at Children's Hospital in Madera. Anyone affected by epilepsy, educators, healthcare workers and the children, too are welcome to attend.


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