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IOM: Epilepsy across the spectrum

If you’ve read Epilepsy by the Numbers, you know that epilepsy is our nation’s most common neurological disorders, yet the public’s understanding of the disorder is limited. In many cases (70%) there is no known cause for a patient’s epilepsy. Many people aren’t even sure what they should do if they see someone having a seizure.

A good hard look
The IOM was asked to examine the public health dimensions of what they refer to as “the epilepsies.” Their examination was to focus on public health surveillance and data collection; population and public health research; health policy, health care, and human services; and education for people with the disorder and their families, health care providers, and the public.

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A complex spectrum
According to the IOM: “Epilepsy is a complex spectrum of disorders that affects an estimated 2.2 million Americans in a variety of ways, and is characterized by unpredictable seizures that differ in type, cause, and severity.”

But as we all know, living with epilepsy is about more than just seizures. There are challenges in school; uncertainties about dating and friendships; and even more insecurities when it comes to employment; limitations on driving; and questions about independent living.

The results
As a result the IOM makes recommendations ranging from the expansion of collaborative epilepsy surveillance efforts, to the coordination of public awareness efforts, to the engagement of people with epilepsy and their families in education, dissemination, and advocacy for improved care and services.

Next steps
The group recommends taking action across multiple dimensions. This approach will improve the lives of people with epilepsy and their families. The realistic, feasible, and action-oriented recommendations in this report can help enable short- and long-term improvements for people with epilepsy.

Read the report

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