EYE ON HEALTH: Local Epilepsy Foundation working to raise awareness of condition
The death of Disney star Cameron Boyce has cast epilepsy into the spotlight. His family says the 20-year-old actor died in his sleep after suffering from a seizure.
While sudden death in epilepsy is rare, the condition itself is not.
Statistics show that one in 26 people will develop epilepsy during their lifetime.
Angela Mininger says, "It is drawing awareness to it."
Angela Mininger is the education coordinator for the local Epilepsy Foundation.
Mininger says, "I go into schools and businesses, places of work to teach about epilepsy and to train on epilepsy first aid and what to do if someone were to have a seizure."
Despite the fact that epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder, there are still lots of questions about the condition.
Local parent Allison Cohen says, "I knew of epilepsy, what is was, but not what went into caring for somebody with epilepsy or what could cause it."
But Cohen soon found out. At just six months, she noticed something just wasn't right with her daughter Ella.
Cohen says, "I went to get her from a nap and she was standing in her crib nodding her head repetitively and I picked her up and she was fine. A couple of days later she did it again. We called our pediatrician and she said we've got to get her looked at."
Cohen says they ended up taking Ella to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with epilepsy, a neurological condition characterized by unpredictable seizures which can cause other health problems.
Cohen says, "And when the attendant saw her and said that is a seizure, my heart just sank. I turned as white as a ghost. It was the panic of what does this mean for her? What does this mean for us? What are we going to do?"
Cohen says their lives immediately changed. Life is a daily struggle.
Cohen says, "So even going to a birthday party outside at a park, it is probably going to cause her to have a really bad seizure when she is done with it. So there is a price to pay for everything we want her to do to be a normal kid."
That's why Cohen says she turned to the local Epilepsy Foundation which has provided invaluable support.
Cohen says, "You have that community connection that you need to really help you get through everything in these daily struggles of life."
Epilepsy is usually treated by medications and in some cases by surgery, devices, or dietary changes.
Mininger says she is hopeful that there will soon be a cure for epilepsy.
Mininger says, "I hope so. I would love to see that. Technology is growing. We are becoming more equipped and educated. I would love to see that."
Some people require lifelong treatment to control seizures, but for others, the seizures eventually go away. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age.