Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day of Hope Conference Addresses Epilepsy

By Faith Muigai, R.N., M.S.N.

Last week on the Tavis Smiley show, the musician Prince discussed struggling with epilepsy as a child. He’s not alone― roughly 200,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed each year, with the incidence highest in those under the age of 2 and over the age of 65. Epilepsy, characterized by seizures, can present challenges to patients, families, and caregivers.

The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain and Spine Institute recently partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation of the Chesapeake Region to organize a Day of Hope―a conference for those with epilepsy to learn about new developments, interact with others who share their condition, and become informed about available resources. Sponsorship and educational materials were provided by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, pharmaceutical vendors, and manufacturers of medical devices.

Invited speakers addressed the causes and effects of epilepsy, new research and treatment options, resources regarding patient rights, and the psychosocial implications of living with the disorder. An epilepsy advocate shared his personal journey, challenges, and triumphs in his keynote address.

Patients, family members, and caregivers who attended the conference overwhelmingly expressed appreciation that the event was held and commented that having the opportunity to gather with others who share their experiences helped them to feel that “they are not alone in their battle.” With such positive feedback, the Institute and the Epilepsy Foundation anticipate making the Day of Hope an annual or bi-annual event.

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