Even the famous are not immune to the harsh reality of epilepsy. This was the case with Jim Abrahams, producer of hit comedy movies such as Airplane, Hot Shots, and The Naked Gun. It is not his Hollywood success that Abrahams states as his biggest accomplishment, but rather his pro-active approach in curing his son’s seizures, uncovering a little known epilepsy treatment called the ketogenic diet, and spreading awareness of the treatment.
As discussed in this candid interview, Arlene Martell, founder of EpilepsyMoms.com and Abrahams had surprisingly similar experiences with their sons when they were young. Each has a son who started having uncontrollable seizures at a young age; their stories of frustration and desperation mirror what many parents of children with epilepsy live. Both describe ineffective treatments, being offered only the options of potentially harmful drugs and surgeries, no cure, and no other treatment alternatives.
In 1993, Abrahams had been determined to find answers and to help his son, Charlie. In his research, he stumbled upon the ketogenic diet- a dietary treatment relatively unused by medical professionals. Doubting the effectiveness of the diet, doctors did not encourage Abrahams to try it, and like many other parents, was pushed towards more medications and surgeries.
Abrahams did start the diet with his son, and with amazing and immediate results. Frustrated by lack of support and education from the medical community, Abrahams used his talents as a producer to make a television movie called “…First Do No Harm”, starring Meryl Streep. This film features the real-life account of a woman who had a remarkable ketogenic success story.
Arlene recalls how it was actually through the television movie that aired, that she first became aware of the ketogenic diet, and what it could mean for her son Adam. To her amazement, Adam benefited instantly, just as Charlie had. She describes what a difference the seizure control made with Adam- how being off the medications brought him back out of his mental “fog”, and how she saw that “sparkle” back in him she hadn’t seen since before his seizures. It was this success with the ketogenic diet that led Arlene to write her ebook titled, “Getting Adam Back… A Mother’s Triumph Over Epilepsy and Autism”.
Abrams is careful to point out that the ketogenic diet does not work for all individuals. However, it is a treatment that all parents should be aware of and consider for their child. Due in part to the awareness brought on by Abrahams and the organization he created called The Charlie Foundation, parents are becoming more aware of the ketogenic diet, and the medical community is embracing it as an accepted treatment for epilepsy.
Also discussed in this episode are:
What is the Ketogenic diet?
Simply put, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, adequate protein diet that is closely monitored by a trained nutritionist. It is a labour intensive treatment that involves dedication by both the parent/s and the child following it.
What is the Ketogenic diet used for?
The ketogenic diet is primarily used to reduce or eliminate seizures in children who have difficult to control seizures. As Abrahams describes, this treatment is now being researched to help control various other types of neurological disorders.
Why didn’t medical professionals accept the diet in the past?
The ketogenic diet was developed at the Mayo Clinic in the 1920s, but hadn’t become greatly used until recently. Abrahams discusses the main reason why that was, and still is by some today.
Perhaps the most convincing testimonials to the ketogenic diet would be the success stories discussed- be sure to listen to the entire podcast for examples.
If you’d like to learn more about the ketogenic diet, please visit www.CharlieFoundation.org for more information. You can also connect with other parents who have experienced the diet and other treatments in our forums.
Remember- follow your instinct, and if your doctor doesn’t support you- find one who will.
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