Today epilepsy is recognized as one of the world’s most common serious brain disorders, affecting more than 70 million people at any given time. It is estimated that around 257,000 children, young people and adults are living with epilepsy in Australia alone and 800,000 Australians will develop epilepsy during their lifetime.
Epilepsy is more common than Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and Muscular Dystrophy combined, but it is still widely and shockingly misunderstood. There are more than 40 types of epilepsy seizures and syndromes.
Nearly two thirds of people still do not know the exact cause of their seizures and 35% of patients still do not respond satisfactorily to medication. Even with recent advances in anti-epileptic medications, many people still suffer multiple seizures every day, sometimes even hundreds.
For many, the debilitating impact of epilepsy can result in major psychological issues and can have a dramatic emotional, financial, and educational impact on families. Recent research indicates that more than 30% of people with epilepsy suffer depression, greatly increasing the likelihood of suicide, self-harm and other socially damaging activity.
Epilepsy can consume families, monopolising their time, money and energy. Many parents are unable to work, as their children require 24-hour care. For children, epilepsy can have a dramatic impact on learning, and often results in poor educational outcomes. Young adults with epilepsy face a higher likelihood of anxiety, depression and under-employment. Even the successful treatment of epilepsy may have long term effects on quality of life.