Injury from epileptic seizures relatively rare, Mayo Clinic study find

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A new Mayo Clinic study has found a low risk of major injury from epileptic seizures. Thus, the researchers say that most patients who have epilepsy do not need to excessively restrict their daily activities to avoid injury. The study will be published in the Nov. 9 issue of Neurology, http://www.neurology.org.

Elson So, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and lead study investigator, explains that an accurate understanding of injury risk for patients who have epilepsy not only affects the patient, but also family members, schools, employers and the general public.

"It is important to find a balance between seizure precaution and the freedom to enjoy life," says Dr. So. "Unnecessary restrictions of activity can adversely affect quality of life, often to a more serious extent than what seizure attacks can do. Ignoring the risk of injuries may have disastrous consequences for some people with epilepsy. However, overestimating the risk of injuries may unfairly impact on the rights of those with well-controlled epilepsy."

Dr. So urges those who interact with patients with epilepsy in school or work settings to resist automatically placing restrictions on the patient.

"People with well-controlled epilepsy should not arbitrarily be considered at higher risk of injury than those without epilepsy," he says. "School authorities and work personnel should understand that the risk of injuries from seizures is very small in people whose epilepsy is well controlled. It's comparable to or lower than the risk in many people without epilepsy. It is unfair and illegal to deprive people with well-controlled epilepsy of their opportunities to study or to work."

Dr. So explains that most previous studies of seizure injury rate looked at patients treated for poorly- controlled epilepsy in epilepsy centers or emergency rooms; these studies cited injury risk rates as high as one in three patien

Contact: Lisa Lucier
Mayo Clinic

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