Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26th is Purple Day!

On March 26th the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance is launching their second annual Purple Day to raise awareness of epilepsy in support of children, their families and adults affected by the disorder. With the cooperation from epilepsy organizations around the world, it has become a global initiative.

The Story behind Purple Day
Purple Day was started by Cassidy Megan, a nine year old girl from Nova Scotia who decided to inform the general public about epilepsy and increase awareness of the condition. Worldwide, 50 million people have epilepsy and in Canada approximately 1% of the population is affected. It tends to be more common in the very young or the elderly, but it can occur at any age.

Why purple?
Lavender is the international colour associated with epilepsy

What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is actually a group of syndromes, all characterized by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The result of this abnormal activity is commonly a seizure of which there are numerous different manifestations.

Not always what it seems!
Not all disabilities are visible and the reminder to wear purple to highlight Epilepsy Awareness is a good example. Surely I’m not the only person who winces when I hear an overeaction by a child or an adult as, ".... and then she just threw a fit!"?

You cannot tell that someone has epilepsy just by looking at them; they're not taller, shorter, clumsier or walk with a stick. This means that many people with epilepsy can quietly go about their everyday life leaving those who they meet none the wiser about their condition. And many choose to do this since epilepsy still carries quite a stigma in society.

There is a lot of misinformation, ranging from incorrect first aid advice (please do read the First Aid tips linked below - it will help both you and your patient avoid injury) thru full blown prejudice about mental impairment to active discrimination in employment, the legal system, parenting and education.

With appropriate medication epilepsy is not a barrier to daily life, for children or adults. Certainly some adjustments do have to be made; swimming or bathing alone can be a definite no-no for example, and certain sports are generally not advised.

But sometimes you can spot epilepsy. A dreamy child might be going thru a petit mal seizure so inattention in class is involuntary, not willful. An apparently intoxicated co-worker might be struggling with a new anti-seizure regime. Resisting physical confinement may not be aggressive; it could be the manifestation of a certain type of seizure and so on.

Approximately 1% of the population has epilepsy so it's possible you have already witnessed a seizure but not known it.... so please read the information in the links and wear your purple with pride

...... or maybe even just choose a different figure of speech to describe someone’s behaviour on March 26th.

Useful Links:
The Centre for Epilepsy & Seizure Education
BC Epilepsy Society
First aid during seizures
Epilepsy Canada
Childcare for children with epilepsy
Seizure First Aid from BC Children's Hospital

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