About Epilepsy

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition in Australia.

  • It affects 1-2% of the population. In Western Australia, at least 20,000 people have active Epilepsy with at least a further 1,400 new patients presenting with a seizure each year.
  • One in 20 children will have a seizure at some time during childhood and adolescence,
  • Epilepsy is increasingly common after the age of 50 years.
  • The risk of an individual developing epilepsy in his or her lifetime is between 3 and 5%.

Live Free of Epilepsy Myths

The majority of patients with Epilepsy remain seizure free under effective treatment. This means that someone with epilepsy can usually lead a normal life.

  • You can drive a car as long as your medication keeps you seizure free.
  • You can participate in sports.
  • You can have children.
  • You can pursue the career of your dreams.

Epilepsy Myths People with Epilepsy Still Face

Epilepsy means you can't be an athlete.

Cyclist Marion Clignet was shunned by the U.S. Cycling Federation after she was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 22. She went on to race for France and earned gold and silver metals in races from 1991 through 2000.

Luke Quinlivan is an Australian water polo champion who has been on medication for epilepsy since 2001. He did have a near miss when he forgot to take his medication and had a seizure in the pool in November 2010. He's still training for the London Olympics in 2012 and has not had any recurrences.

Epilepsy means you are mentally deficient.

This has been one of the most persistent of myths. Some epileptics prefer to say they have "seizures" because they fear that others will think they are mentally challenged or brain damaged.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Agatha Christie of mystery writing fame had epilepsy. No one would consider her "retarded." The scientist who discovered the power of gravity, Sir Isaac Newton, also suffered from epileptic seizures.

Epilepsy leads to high absenteeism and on-the-job accidents.

There is absolutely no statistical proof of this as long as your medication is controlling your seizures. Epileptics tend to have the same healthcare costs as the general population. Some employees who are well-controlled may prefer not to reveal their condition, especially when approaching a potential employer.

Unfortunately, this approach allows the myth to continue unchallenged! We encourage epileptics to consider educating and increasing awareness about epilepsy, rather than continuing to allow this misconception to prevent other epileptics from finding their dream jobs.

If this myth were true, actor Danny Glover wouldn't still be a major player in the U.S. movie industry. Hollywood isn't as tolerant of actors when they are no longer the biggest profit producers, yet you continue to see this man playing supportive roles.

Of course the situation is different if ongoing seizures are a problem. This does have a major impact on the burden of illness to you, your employer and the community, including your quality of life and your ability to perform your job. Mortality and the economic costs of Epilepsy increase dramatically in proportion to seizure frequency.

Epilepsy is contagious.

This myth has been disproven since the early 1800s, yet people still ask the question. While epilepsy may be passed on genetically, this is the only way it can be "spread."

Epileptic seizures are different every time.

Your epileptic seizures will usually be the same every time. Once you know how your seizures affect you, you can share this information with friends and co-workers so they know what to do if you have a seizure. You can assure those around you that you can't swallow your tongue.

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