March 26 is an important day for 1 in 100 Canadians: it’s Purple Day, also known as Epilepsy Awareness Day.
While usually the day would entail public events and local displays of support, due to COVID-19 the day’s celebrations have moved online.
Using hashtags like #purpleday #epilepsyawareness and #Iam1in100 people are sharing their stories, myth-busting facts and showing support for people living with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a neurological disease resulting in seizures caused by the misfiring of neurons in the brain. It can have many causes including genetics, physical brain abnormalities such as malignant or benign tumors and head injuries. However, two-thirds of people diagnosed with epilepsy will never learn why they are having seizures.
Seizures take many forms, and are not always the physical spasms kind seen on TV. Some include absence seizures (where people “space out”), focal seizures (repeated movements or actions), and myoclonic seizures (sudden jolts), and many others.
There is no cure for epilepsy, though most people can find some control with medication. Up to 30 per cent of people with epilepsy, however, may have medication-resistant seizures. Some people also require brain surgery to limit seizure activity.
If you ever see someone going through a seizure, there are several steps that can be taken: time the seizure, and call 911 if it lasts longer than five minutes, if the person is injured as a result of the seizure, if the person is pregnant or diabetic, or if you are uncertain if the person has epilepsy. While the seizure is going on, protect the person from injury by removing nearby dangerous objects. If the person falls, lay them on the side when it is safe to do so and do not put anything in their mouth. If the person wanders, stay with them and keep them safe until the seizure ends.
For more information, visit canadianepilepsyalliance.org.