It is a word that conjures up feelings of fear, dread, the unknown, and of complex and not-understood medical terms. But, armed with the right information, epilepsy sufferers and even parents of epileptic children can fight through these feelings, and in turn find they have a greater chance of successfully treating seizures.
In this episode of the Epilepsymoms podcast, Arlene Martell engages guest Dr. Robert Mittan in a candid discussion about the fundamental basics of seizures.
Dr. Mittan, a clinical neuropsychologist, boasts a number of credentials that secure his recognition as one of the foremost epilepsy educators in the world. He has received numerous awards, and the research conducted by Dr. Mittan has led to many new and important discoveries in this field. He has been educating and helping people with epilepsy and their families for 25 years.
Arlene, herself no stranger to epilepsy and the devastating effects it can have, guides Dr. Mittan through the interview. She first met Dr. Mittan at one of his S.E.E. seminars (Seizures & Epilepsy Education). The S.E.E. program is an initiative that was put in place to deal with psychological and social needs of those with epilepsy and their families. In the United States and Canada, even though we may be fortunate enough to be treated by knowledgeable medical professionals, the reality is that physicians have a very limited amount of time in which they can spend with a patient in diagnosing them, and also leading them through treatments. Programs such as a 2 day extensive S.E.E seminar, or other such programs, can often help to fill in any information that the primary physician misses. Arlene encourages parents of epileptic children to contact local epilepsy groups to inquire about sponsoring a program in their area.
Dr. Mittan addresses the issue that the most difficult problem in dealing with those affected by epilepsy is the fear associated with it. These fears are very common, and are seldom talked about. He goes on to say that “this is the dilemma that parents of kids with epilepsy find themselves in; when they don’t have good information about epilepsy, the natural tendency is to jump to the worst conclusion, and this is the element in which the fears find a great place to breed and multiply”.
A very important aspect of combating seizures is becoming what Dr. Mittan describes as “seizure smart”. Armed with good information, parents can understand why and how seizures occur, as well as how anti-convulsive medications work in the body. When parents understand these things, it gives them a sense of confidence for managing their child’s seizures and minimizing side effects from medications.
There are several other key points which Arlene and Dr. Mittan address throughout the podcast, such as:
- What happens to the brain during a seizure. Dr. Mittan describes this with an easy-to-understand analogy.
- The importance of getting the seizure diagnosis correct, why this doesn’t always happen, and how not doing so can be detrimental for obtaining seizure control.
- An individual’s seizure threshold. We all have a seizure threshold, those with epilepsy have a lower one than most people. They discuss practical suggestions for how to adapt your lifestyle to increase your seizure threshold.
- The Ketogenic diet. Fascinating new information has been released which indicates how and why the ketogenic diet works to reduce and even eliminate seizures.
- The importance of testing blood levels, how they differ in individuals and why it is important to test even when you have achieved seizure control.
For more information on the S.E.E. program (including a schedule and for articles), please visit their website at www.theseeprogram.com. Also, be sure to listen to this episode of the EpilepsyMoms podcast in its entirety, check the archives for past shows, and register to be notified of upcoming shows.
Remember- education goes a long way in managing and even overcoming epilepsy.
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