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NERVOUS SYSTEM 12

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VOL: 97, ISSUE: 30, PAGE NO: 45

Kate Widdows, RN, DipN, is education and development sister at Atkinson and Morley's Hospital, Wimbledon, London

Epilepsy is a common condition. An epileptic seizure is defined as a brief, usually unprovoked, stereotyped disturbance of behaviour, emotion, motor function or sensation which is caused by abnormal electrical discharge in the brain. Hickey (1997), defines epilepsy as a chronic disorder of abnormal, excessive and self-terminating discharge from neurones. Periods between seizures can vary widely. Seizures must recur to constitute epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a common condition. An epileptic seizure is defined as a brief, usually unprovoked, stereotyped disturbance of behaviour, emotion, motor function or sensation which is caused by abnormal electrical discharge in the brain. Hickey (1997), defines epilepsy as a chronic disorder of abnormal, excessive and self-terminating discharge from neurones. Periods between seizures can vary widely. Seizures must recur to constitute epilepsy.

When making a diagnosis of epilepsy, the clinician must ensure that there is no doubt about the diagnosis, as a false-positive diagnosis can be gravely damaging and frightening to the individual and their family.

One in every 200 people is affected or experiences recurrent seizures at some time in their life. Bradley et al (2000) suggest that active epilepsy is defined as a person who takes anticonvulsant drugs or who has had a seizure in the past five years.

Every day up to 100 people are diagnosed with epilepsy. The rate of epilepsy in children appears to be falling but it is rising in older age groups due to cerebrovascular disease (Shorvon, 2000).

USEFUL CONTACTS
The National Society for Epilepsy, Chesham Lane, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks SL9 0RJ Helpline 01494 601400

British Epilepsy Association, New Anstey House, Gateway Drive, Leeds LS19 7XY

Helpline 0808 800 5050

Epilepsy Wales Helpline 08457 413774

Epilepsy Association of Scotland Helpline 0141 427 5225

Brainwave (Irish Epilepsy Association) 00353 61 313773

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