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Learning About Epilepsy

By providing current information about epilepsy, and how to prevent it, FES helps people learn about seizures and the social issues that go along with having a seizure disorder.

 What We Do

Florida Epilepsy Services provides education programs for employers, school teachers, students, nurses, police officers, day care workers, human services professionals and community groups. As a result, the participants are better prepared to work with persons with epilepsy and have a more positive attitude about epilepsy. Anyone can request an education program for their school, workplace or community group. There is no fee for these educational programs.

 What is Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system. For a brief time, the brain functions in an abnormal way. Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by a person having two or more seizures. The seizures are brief, excessive surges of electrical activity in the brain that cause a change in how a person feels, senses things or behaves.

What are seizures?

Seizures are characterized by a sudden change in movement, behavior, sensation or consciousness produced by an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain.

Who can develop seizures?

Any individual can develop seizures at any time. But epilepsy is not contagious.

Epilepsy and seizures affect 2.3 million Americans of all ages. It is second only to stroke in prevalence of neurological disorders. About 200,000 new cases of seizures and epilepsy occur each year. 10% of the American population will experience a seizure in their lifetimes.

Epilepsy is non-discriminating, affecting persons of all ages, ethnicities, economic status and gender equally. The Center for Disease Control estimates that about 1-2 persons out of every 100 are afflicted with epilepsy.

What are some causes of epilepsy?

In more than half of epilepsy cases, there is no cause found. Some common causes of epilepsy include:

  • Major head trauma
  • Infectious diseases such as encephalitis
  • Birth trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Brain tumors
  • Stroke

What are some types of seizures?

  • Generalized seizures – Loss of consciousness
  • Simple partial seizures – No loss of consciousness
  • Complex partial seizures – Altered consciousness

 Support Groups

FES provides numerous groups to give people a chance to learn more about epilepsy and how to cope with the many challenges of living with this seizure disorder.

  • Support Groups provide time for persons to share with others who live with the same disorder.
  • Orientation Groups are held for new clients to provide information about epilepsy.
  • Job Seminars are held to provide information about job issues and getting a job.

All groups are free and open to anyone with epilepsy, family members and friends and held both in our offices and at other sites. Contact the office to find out the group site closest to you.


Anti-epileptic drugs work by either inhibiting or exciting the neurons in the brain to a normal level of chemical or electrical exchange. They help prevent neurons from mis-firing. An epilepsy education program on medications includes:

  • How medications work
  • Current anti-epileptic medications
  • Medication side effects
  • Drug interactions
  • Use and abuse of drugs

 First Aid Procedures

These are some procedures to follow:

Generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure:

  • Speak calmly and reassuringly
  • Look for medical identification
  • Remove hazards such as furniture, glasses
  • Cushion a person’s head
  • Loosen neckwear
  • Turn on side to keep airway clear
  • Do not put anything in a person’s mouth
  • Do not restrain a person
  • Do not give liquids

Complex partial seizure

  • Lead away from danger
  • Remain with person until completely aware of environment
  • Speak calmly and reassuringly
  • Do not restrain


At least 1% of children have some type of epilepsy. Up to 4-5% of children may experience one or more febrile seizures.

About 30% of seizures begin before age five. About 80% of persons with epilepsy have their first seizure before age 20. An estimated 316,000 children under age 14 have epilepsy.

Febrile seizures, or seizures occurring with fever, are seen typically in children between six months and 5 years old and are usually not related to epilepsy.

An epilepsy education program on children and epilepsy includes:

  • Understanding of epilepsy
  • Causes of epilepsy in children
  • Family dynamics
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Difficulties with diagnosis and treatment
  • Healthcare plans and treatment


It is known that as we age, our bodies begin a natural and physiological deterioration process that can make epilepsy more likely to occur. An estimated 550,000 adults, aged 65 and older, have epilepsy.

Stroke is the most common cause of seizures in senior adults.

An epilepsy education program on seniors and epilepsy includes:

  • Understanding of epilepsy
  • Education levels
  • Income levels
  • Family dynamics
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Difficulties with diagnosis and treatment
  • Transportation issues
  • Living situation
  • Healthcare plans and treatment


Because of a number of health issues involved, women with epilepsy should have a coordinated health care program.

For women wanting to raise a family, they should consult with their neurologist and OB/GYN for family planning prior to pregnancy. Pre-pregnancy counseling is a key factor to insure both mother and child get proper care before, during and after pregnancy.

Women with epilepsy are considered “high risk” pregnancies. Approximately 25% of women with epilepsy may have increased seizures during pregnancy. It is important for women to meet with their physician during this time.

An epilepsy education program on women and epilepsy includes:

  • Understanding of epilepsy
  • Family dynamics
  • Relationships
  • Sexuality and epilepsy
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Healthcare plans and treatment


Florida Epilepsy Services