Doctor to debunk the myths of epilepsy

The original article can be found in: Antigua Observer

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Epilepsy is not contagious, neither is it a fact that a person experiencing an epileptic seizure is possessed by demons. These and other beliefs will be debunked during a presentation on the topic hosted by the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) during a free lecture this evening.

“It’s mainly medical awareness,” the facilitator, Antiguan-born Associate Professor of Paediatric Neurology in Austin, Texas, and Director of Children’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Programme at Dell’s Children’s Medical Center in Central Texas, Dr David Clarke said.

“We want to break down that stigma surrounding epilepsy, let individuals know that many people who have it live well. People can work with epilepsy, and if adequately treated, one can drive, live a normal life. But it’s very important to treat the condition appropriately, and we really have to get the word out there.”

The information he and his colleagues want to share with Antiguans and Barbudans is that epilepsy can be effectively treated with medication and, barring that, there are potential surgical procedures that can be done.

During an interview on OBSERVER AM yesterday, the doctor said there are many causes for the condition and the highest prevalence seems to be among the very young and very old members of society. Approximately one in every 100 persons under the age of 20 suffer from the disease, and about one out of every 26 people from the age of 70, he said.

“An epileptic seizure is a sudden, very involuntary time limited change in behaviour. It could be motor – twitching, sensory – atypical sensation, or psychiatric-related atypical behaviour caused by abnormal electrical discharge of the brain … it can be genetic, it can be from trauma, it can be from an infection; anything that causes a dysfunction of the brain can cause epilepsy,” he said.

People everywhere are fighting the same battles where epilepsy is concerned, Dr Clarke said, and medical professionals are trying their utmost to let it be known that if treated appropriately, many individuals who have seizures can enjoy an excellent quality of life.

In the past, Dr Clarke has held similar awareness sessions with staff at Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) and he visits the island on a regular basis to provide patient care.

This evening’s lecture will be held at the MBS Health Care and Conference building on Nevis Street from 6:15 pm.


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