Epilepsy Awareness Week: Half of child sufferers recover, but stigma remains
One out of every 100 – or 70,000 individuals – suffers from epilepsy, according to experts currently marking Israel Epilepsy Awareness Week.
But the good news is that half of children diagnosed with the neurological disease will recover within a few years.
Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba is now offering electroencephalogram (EEG) screening for early diagnosis of epilepsy. The hospital is in the process of setting up a brain center for diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.
The service will be headed by Prof. Mati Lifshitz together with technicians. Such screening tests are very accurate for determining whether people suffer from epilepsy, what type and which part of the brain is affected, they said.
Due to irregular electrical activity in certain parts of the brain, epileptic attacks occur occasionally or frequently. The attacks can be short or long, involving convulsions and even loss of consciousness in the more severe cases. Yet seven out of 10 patients who take medications are completely free from the attacks.
Dr. Iris Neumann, a pediatric neurologist and epilepsy expert at the hospital, said the new center uses a device that registers the brain’s electrical activity and photographs the patient simultaneously. Thus the staff can view the clinical signs as well as brain activity. The monitoring goes on for 24 hours or more, according to clinical needs and the frequency of the attacks.
Soroka also has the Anita Kaufman Epilepsy Education Center run by Galit Greenberg – a unique facility that gives support to families with epilepsy patients, raises public awareness of the disease and tries to reduce the stigma of those suffering from the disease. It also teaches the general public what to do if they see a person in an epileptic attack and reduces anxiety among patients who tend to hide their illness. The center has already delivered free lectures to 3,000 people around the country.