Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that can affect anybody at any point in their life. It most commonly develops in childhood or in people over 60 years of age.
Epilepsy is characterised by a person experiencing repeated seizures. During a seizure bursts of electrical activity in the brain temporarily affects how the brain works. People are affected by seizures in different ways depending on which area of the brain they are happening in.
Physiotherapists can provide a lot of helpful input to people who suffer from Epilepsy. Improving overall health and well being through exercise to improve fitness, energy and mood and relieving stress helps to reduce seizures and the impact of epilepsy in some people.
Seizures can affect someone when they are awake or asleep.
· Simple Partial Focal Seizures are also known as ‘Auras’. Here you stay awake while the seizure is happening. You may get a rising feeling in your tummy, a sense of déjà vu, an unusual smell or taste, tingling in your arms or legs, stiffness or twitching of part of your body. An Aura is often a sign that a different type of seizure is about to happen.
· Complex Partial Focal Seizures cause a loss of sense of awareness and random body movements. You will not have any recollection of these signs after the seizure has occurred.
· Tonic – Clonic Seizures. Here, in the Tonic phase you lose consciousness, your body goes stiff and you may lose your balance and fall to the floor. In the Clonic phase (which typically lasts a few minutes) your limbs jerk about, you may lose control of your bladder, you may bite your tongue, you may have difficulty breathing.
· Absence Seizures usually only last up to 15 minutes and mainly affect children. You will stare into space or look like you’re daydreaming, there may be some jerking movements of the body.
· Myoclonic Seizures often happen soon after waking up and the whole body, last for a few seconds but can be rapidly repeated on a short space of time.
· Atonic Seizures are very brief, and you will fall to the ground as your muscles suddenly all relax
· Status Epilepticus is where the seizure lasts a long time, or a series of seizures occurs where the person doesn’t regain consciousness.
It can sometimes be hard to find out exactly why seizures have started. Causes of epilepsy are complex and sometimes hard to identify. Causes may be:
· Genetic Tendency: Inherited from both or either parent, or not inherited due to a change in your genes
· Structural e.g. the brain not developing properly or due to damage of the brain from a brain injury, an infection, a stroke or a tumour.
· Structural changes due to genetic conditions e.g. neurofibromatosis which cause growths affecting the brain
Seizures are exhausting, it is important that people with epilepsy are healthy and fit in order to help them to cope with the demand’s seizures may have on the body. The risk of having seizures can be
reduced by getting plenty of sleep each night, learning stress management and relaxation techniques, avoiding drugs and alcohol, taking all medications as prescribed by doctors.
Physiotherapists can provide a lot of helpful input to people who suffer from Epilepsy. Improving overall health and wellbeing through exercise to improve fitness, energy and mood and relieving stress helps to reduce seizures and the impact of epilepsy in some people.