Epilepsy Awareness Month: Resources available

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy affects about 2 million people in the United States and is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Delayed recognition of these seizures and inadequate treatment increases the risk for additional seizures, disability, decreased health-related quality of life and, in rare instances, death.

Although epilepsy can occur at any age, the condition is more likely to begin among children younger than 2 years old and adults older than 65. Those with epilepsy often face challenges related to managing epilepsy treatment, symptoms, disability, lifestyle limitations, emotional stress and stigma.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Network is composed of individuals interested in improving the care of people with epilepsy. MEW Network members, including representatives from U.S. universities, community-based organizations and the CDC are working together to develop and test self-management programs and tools that help people with epilepsy better manage their disorder.

MEW programs available include WebEase, UPLIFT and PEARLS. WebEase (Epilepsy Awareness Support and Education) is an Internet self-management program designed to improve medication adherence, stress management and sleep. UPLIFT (Using Practice and Learning to Increase Favorable Thoughts) is an Internet and telephone program that combines cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness to treat depression in people with epilepsy. PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives) is a home-based, collaborative-care depression treatment program for adults with epilepsy.

Interventions that are being tested by MEW Network researchers include a self-management program that combines self-regulation and social support for adults with refractory epilepsy; an electronic decision-support system for clinics to improve self-management communication and behavior; and a consumer-driven, self-management program. New projects include a telephone intervention for rural-dwelling adults with epilepsy and cognitive impairment, and self-management training for adults with epilepsy and coexisting serious mental illness.

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