Author: The Epilepsy Foundation



Epilepsy is a serious neurological disorder that can develop at any time in life, but there is a particular susceptibility in young children and the elderly. The condition produces seizures, which can range from a momentary disruption of the senses to short periods of unconsciousness or staring spells to convulsions.

A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy. Epilepsy affects more than three million people in the United States and 50 million people worldwide; yet, many people do not recognize the signs of a seizure.

Many times, the symptoms are misinterpreted as alcoholic or drug-induced intoxication. Some epilepsy symptoms have even been known to confuse law enforcement officers, who may mistake someone experiencing a seizure or post-seizure behaviors for mentally ill or criminal behavior.

For example, in Oakland County, Mich., police didn't see a seizing Daniel Belongea's medical bracelet and tasered and arrested him for disorderly conduct. In Nashville, Tenn., Federico Becerra, Jr. died after emergency personnel attempted to physically subdue his movements.

To prevent these tragic oversights and to ensure that first responders know how to care for people with epilepsy, the Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit organization, is expanding its "First Responders Training" program. The goal is to teach law enforcement and emergency medical response teams the correct way to respond to people experiencing seizures.

For more information on seizures, or to find out if training is available in your area, call the Epilepsy Foundation at 800-332-1000, or visit Epilepsy Foundation-Epilepsy Foundation-trusted, reliable information for people with seizures, and their caregivers.