Epilepsy survey reveals ‘potentially dangerous’ reactions


One in three Irish people would respond to someone having an epileptic fit in a “potentially dangerous” way, according to a survey carried out on behalf of Epilepsy Ireland.

The survey found 32 per cent of respondents would attempt to insert something into a person’s mouth if they witnessed them having an epileptic seizure while 12 per cent would try to restrain the person – actions described as “completely inappropriate and potentially dangerous” by Epilepsy Ireland.

The survey found 70 per cent of respondents would call an ambulance whereas this is required in only limited circumstances: where it is a person’s first seizure, where the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or if the person has become injured during the seizure.

However, the survey of more than 1,000 people also returned some positive results: 71 per cent of respondents know that they should stay with the person until the seizure ends.

Ireland rugby head coach Joe Schmidt whose son has epilepsy and who is fronting Epilepsy Ireland’s Seizure Aware campaign said it was encouraging to see an increasing level of awareness around epilepsy.

“However, there are still knowledge gaps and probably some fear about epilepsy among people generally as indicated in the research findings, which naturally present major challenges for people living with epilepsy,” he said.

The Be Seizure Aware campaign, launched last month, aims to increase epilepsy awareness by encouraging people to keep the acronym TEAM in mind. T: Take care to protect the person; E: Ensure you stay with the person; A: Allow the seizure run its course; M: Move the person on to their side when the seizure is over.

Separately, Minister for Health James Reilly opened an epilepsy-monitoring unit at Beaumont Hospital last week which can detect if surgery is likely to bring an end to patients’ seizures.