Can a Service Dog Make Me Healthier?

Can a Service Dog Make Me Healthier?

A lot of us say that our dogs make us happy. During Covid, one study even suggested that owning a dog helped stave off depression, but dogs can be more than just good company. They can help you manage chronic diseases from epilepsy to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As Christine Henry, a licensed psychologist in Texas, explains, a client she worked with “came from a domestic violence situation. Even though she was safe, she had trouble sleeping at night and rarely left the home. Once she had a service dog, she was able to leave the home, and later was able to maintain a job in an office. She also was able to get off her sleep medication over time. She grew to trust the dog and know that he would alert her if there was an intruder.”

What Are Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Emotional Support Animals?

Pets can be used in a variety of different settings to provide specific services along with general comfort and support. A service dog is one that’s trained to perform a specific task, like a guide dog that helps a person with limited vision navigate their surroundings.

A therapy dog is one that is trained to provide emotional support to people in particular settings such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes and jails. One study in hospitals suggested that patients who saw a therapy dog reported less pain, anxiety, and depression immediately after the visit than those who didn’t.

Emotional support animals are pets that provide comfort in stressful situations and psychiatric distress. They are not trained to perform specific functions.

Service animals are the only ones generally allowed in public spaces. If you obtain a letter from a mental health provider, you should be permitted to have an emotional support animal in your home, but the letter does not mean the animal is permitted in public areas where pets are not allowed.

What Conditions Can a Service Animal Help?

Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs

You’re likely familiar with guide dogs, animals taught to navigate surroundings for people with limited or no eyesight. These dogs undergo extensive training to support their owners.

Dogs can also be trained to help people with hearing loss. The pets can be trained to respond to doorbells, baby cries, or alarm clocks, explains Amy Sarow, AuD, an audiologist in Michigan.

Hearing loss affects more than just the ears. Studies show that over time, people who lose their hearing start to feel isolated and are at higher risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s. One study showed that those with hearing dogs reported less depression and anxiety and higher social engagement than those with similar hearing loss but no hearing dog.

Other people with hearing dogs considered themselves more independent and were less likely to require social services than their counterparts without the service animals.

“The positive effects on quality of life could even lead to better mental health and therefore reduced need for medication to manage mental health,“ says Sarow.

Allergies, Diabetes, and Epilepsy

Service dogs can also be trained to detect allergens in a room or specific foods. They can warn their owners about approaching seizures and bouts of low blood sugar. In situations where one of these events does occur, the dogs can be trained to recognize the emergency and seek help for its owner.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, dogs may also lie down next to their owners during a seizure in order to help protect them from injuries.


Service dogs can serve as an ice breaker for children with Autism who struggle to socialize. The animals can also be trained to interrupt harmful behaviors or track a person with Autism who has wandered off.

Most studies evaluating the effect of a service dog on people with autism are very small, but some suggest the animals improve overall wellbeing of both the individual and their family.

Mobility Support

Dogs can help people with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy and paralysis, according to a 2020 study. The dogs can be trained to open and close doors, for example, helping people feel more independent. The researchers found that those who were provided with service dogs reported greater functioning in school, work, and social settings.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Dogs are frequently used to help veterans with PTSD. In addition to providing comfort, training service dogs to perform specific tasks such as alerting its owner if someone is walking up behind them or circling a room before they enter, the animals can reduce anxiety. One study showed that veterans who received service dogs were more likely to be able to reduce the dosage or number of their PTSD medications. Another study suggested that for these individuals, the calmer the dog, the greater the individuals would benefit from its presence.

Depression and Trauma

Those who are experiencing depression or trauma may not need a service dog trained to help them get out of bed, but an emotional support dog can still go a long way toward helping them recover.

“Petting a dog helps improve mental health almost instantly and can help someone who has experienced trauma begin to live more in the present moment,” adds Katie Ziskind, LMFT, a therapist and owner of Wisdom Within Counseling.

These pets also help encourage people to leave their beds to feed and walk their dog, providing motivation, fresh air and light exercise which is known to help depression, Ziskind explained.

How to Get a Support Dog

The first question you’ll need to answer for yourself is whether you’ll need a service dog, one that’s trained to perform specific tasks like identify seizures, open doors and alert you to your surroundings, or if you’re looking for an emotional support dog to provide companionship and comfort at home and on airplanes. If you need a service dog, you’ll want to reach out to an organization that trains dogs to perform the specific service you need. Try searching the database of accredited organizations from Assistance Dogs International.

If you’re looking for an emotional support dog, you can adopt one at your local shelter or speak to a qualified breeder. Make sure you discuss your needs with your healthcare professional and with those helping you to adopt or purchase your dog.

“Picking the appropriate size animal for the client and one with the right training for the situation or diagnosis is important,” says Ziskind.


Source:, Emma Yasinski

COVID-19 infections increase risk of long-term brain problems

COVID-19 infections increase risk of long-term brain problems

Strokes, seizures, memory and movement disorders among problems that develop in first year after infection

A comprehensive analysis of federal data by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows people who have had COVID-19 are at an elevated risk of developing neurological conditions within the first year after infection. Movement disorders, memory problems, strokes and seizures are among the complications.

If you’ve had COVID-19, it may still be messing with your brain. Those who have been infected with the virus are at increased risk of developing a range of neurological conditions in the first year after the infection, new research shows. Such complications include strokes, cognitive and memory problems, depression, anxiety and migraine headaches, according to a comprehensive analysis of federal health data by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care system.

Additionally, the post-COVID brain is associated with movement disorders, from tremors and involuntary muscle contractions to epileptic seizures, hearing and vision abnormalities, and balance and coordination difficulties as well as other symptoms similar to what is experienced with Parkinson’s disease.

The findings are published Sept. 22 in Nature Medicine.

“Our study provides a comprehensive assessment of the long-term neurologic consequences of COVID-19,” said senior author Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University. “Past studies have examined a narrower set of neurological outcomes, mostly in hospitalized patients. We evaluated 44 brain and other neurologic disorders among both non-hospitalized and hospitalized patients, including those admitted to the intensive care unit. The results show the devastating long-term effects of COVID-19. These are part and parcel of long COVID. The virus is not always as benign as some people think it is.”

Overall, COVID-19 has contributed to more than 40 million new cases of neurological disorders worldwide, Al-Aly said.

Other than having a COVID infection, specific risk factors for long-term neurological problems are scarce. “We’re seeing brain problems in previously healthy individuals and those who have had mild infections,” Al-Aly said. “It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, female or male, or what your race is. It doesn’t matter if you smoked or not, or if you had other unhealthy habits or conditions.”

Few people in the study were vaccinated for COVID-19 because the vaccines were not yet widely available during the time span of the study, from March 2020 through early January 2021. The data also predates delta, omicron and other COVID variants.

A previous study in Nature Medicine led by Al-Aly found that vaccines slightly reduce — by about 20% — the risk of long-term brain problems. “It is definitely important to get vaccinated but also important to understand that they do not offer complete protection against these long-term neurologic disorders,” Al-Aly said.

The researchers analyzed about 14 million de-identified medical records in a database maintained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the nation’s largest integrated health-care system. Patients included all ages, races and sexes.

They created a controlled data set of 154,000 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 sometime from March 1, 2020, through Jan. 15, 2021, and who had survived the first 30 days after infection. Statistical modeling was used to compare neurological outcomes in the COVID-19 data set with two other groups of people not infected with the virus:  a control group of more than 5.6 million patients who did not have COVID-19 during the same time frame; and a control group of more than 5.8 million people from March 2018 to December 31, 2019, long before the virus infected and killed millions across the globe.

The researchers examined brain health over a year-long period. Neurological conditions occurred in 7% more people with COVID-19 compared with those who had not been infected with the virus. Extrapolating this percentage based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., that translates to roughly 6.6 million people who have suffered brain impairments associated with the virus.

Memory problems — colloquially called brain fog — are one of the most common brain-related, long-COVID symptoms. Compared with those in the control groups, people who contracted the virus were at a 77% increased risk of developing memory problems. “These problems resolve in some people but persist in many others,” Al-Aly said. “At this point, the proportion of people who get better versus those with long-lasting problems is unknown.”

Interestingly, the researchers noted an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease among those infected with the virus. There were two more cases of Alzheimer’s per 1,000 people with COVID-19 compared with the control groups. “It’s unlikely that someone who has had COVID-19 will just get Alzheimer’s out of the blue,” Al-Aly said. “Alzheimer’s takes years to manifest. But what we suspect is happening is that people who have a predisposition to Alzheimer’s may be pushed over the edge by COVID, meaning they’re on a faster track to develop the disease. It’s rare but concerning.”

Also compared to the control groups, people who had the virus were 50% more likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke, which strikes when a blood clot or other obstruction blocks an artery’s ability to supply blood and oxygen to the brain. Ischemic strokes account for the majority of all strokes, and can lead to difficulty speaking, cognitive confusion, vision problems, the loss of feeling on one side of the body, permanent brain damage, paralysis and death.

“There have been several studies by other researchers that have shown, in mice and humans, that SARS-CoV-2 can attack the lining of the blood vessels and then then trigger a stroke or seizure,” Al-Aly said. “It helps explain how someone with no risk factors could suddenly have a stroke.”

Overall, compared to the uninfected, people who had COVID-19 were 80% more likely to suffer from epilepsy or seizures, 43% more likely to develop mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression, 35% more likely to experience mild to severe headaches, and 42% more likely to encounter movement disorders. The latter includes involuntary muscle contractions, tremors and other Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

COVID-19 sufferers were also 30% more likely to have eye problems such as blurred vision, dryness and retinal inflammation; and they were 22% more likely to develop hearing abnormalities such as tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

“Our study adds to this growing body of evidence by providing a comprehensive account of the neurologic consequences of COVID-19 one year after infection,” Al-Aly said.

Long COVID’s effects on the brain and other systems emphasize the need for governments and health systems to develop policy, and public health and prevention strategies to manage the ongoing pandemic and devise plans for a post-COVID world, Al-Aly said. “Given the colossal scale of the pandemic, meeting these challenges requires urgent and coordinated — but, so far, absent — global, national and regional response strategies,” he said.


Source:, Kristina Sauerwein

Lipocine Shifts Pipeline Focus to CNS Disorders (Updated)

Lipocine Shifts Pipeline Focus to CNS Disorders (Updated)

Utah-based Lipocine Inc. will undergo a strategic realignment and focus on developing a pipeline of differentiated products for central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

The company announced its new focus Monday morning and will aim its Lip’ral oral drug delivery technology at developing oral neuroactive steroids. The announcement was made prior to the release of near-term clinical milestones for LPCN 1154, the company’s lead candidate for postpartum depression (PPD).

Lipocine’s initial focus will be on endogenous neuroactive steroids (NAS). These have broad applicability in treating different CNS conditions. Lipocine believes it can leverage its Lip’ral platform to develop highly differentiated oral therapeutics, Mahesh Patel, president and chief executive officer of Lipocine, said in a statement.

Patel told BioSpace the company sees significant potential in the CNS space and will allow Lipocine to more effectively use its resources for the development of its neuroactive steroids.

“The changes we are implementing allow us to focus on a select number of candidates in active development and to manage our resources efficiently,” Patel said.

A Focus on CNS Through NAS 

According to the company, endogenous neuroactive steroids have shown the ability to impact CNS function through allosteric modulation of the GABAA receptor. NAS drugs have become a focus due to the potential of this class in the treatment of multiple neuropsychiatric conditions, including depression, movement disorders, epilepsy, anxiety and neurodegenerative diseases.

Lipocine’s most advanced NAS candidate is LPCN 1154, which is being assessed for postpartum depression. Results from a pharmacokinetic bridge study, a prelude to a pivotal study required for the filing of a New Drug Application, is expected in the first quarter of 2023.

Patel said no other company can produce these oral NAS medications that have the potential to be a fast-acting agent for PPD. The oral medication will have advantages over current intravenous options as it will not separate mothers from their children while receiving treatment.

In addition to LPCN 1154, Lipocine’s CNS development portfolio includes LPCN 2101, which is being assessed as a treatment for women with epilepsy. The company also has additional undisclosed CNS-focused candidates. Patel said there are numerous options in the CNS space and the company is excited about its new path that will allow greater exploration in this space.

Non-Core Assets

As Lipocine shifts into its new focus, the company intends to explore strategic partnerships and other opportunities for non-core assets, which includes its recently-approved testosterone-replacement therapy, Tlando.

The therapy was approved in March of this year and has been licensed by Antares Pharma. In its announcement, Lipocine noted that it would explore ex-U.S. commercialization opportunities for Tlando.

Other non-core assets include LPCN 1148, a potential treatment for decompensated liver cirrhosis. LPCN 1148 is currently in a Phase II proof-of-concept study.

The company also has LPCN 1144 for treatment of non-cirrhotic NASH, LPCN 1107 for prevention of pre-term birth and LPCN 1111, a once-a-day testosterone replacement therapy.

“We continue to believe in the value of our non-core candidates and have determined that the optimal way to advance these assets will be through partnership. We believe that this strategy will allow us to diversify risk and can create opportunities for non-dilutive financing,” Patel said.

At this time, Lipocine does not intend to make further investments in these non-core programs. The company has $37.4 million in available cash and cash equivalents. Lipocine believes this will be sufficient to support operations and capital expenditure until at least Sept. 30, 2023.



Child with epilepsy turned away from Journey Early Learning childcare center on first day

Child with epilepsy turned away from Journey Early Learning childcare center on first day

The mother of a child with epilepsy is struggling to find child care after a daycare center told her they were unable to undertake the specialist training required to administer medication for her son.

Single mother Libby Gott told ABC Radio Melbourne her son, Leo, was offered a place at Journey Early Learning in Alphington knowing he had epilepsy and agreeing they would undertake the training before he was due to attend.

After Ms. Gott accepted the place and paid a deposit for Leo’s care, he was diagnosed with 16p11.2 deletion syndrome a rare genetic disorder that means Leo’s 16th chromosome is missing, and is believed to be the underlying cause of her son’s epilepsy.

Ms. Gott said she contacted Journey Early Learning upon receiving the diagnosis.

“I called the center to tell them, and they said … we’re just going to book you in for your orientation,” Ms. Gott said.

Medication requests forgotten

Leo requires medication administrated through a nasal spray in the event of seizures.

Ms Gott said she had tried to ensure the specialist arrangement would be in place in time for Leo’s first day.

“I said I just want to make sure the epilepsy first aid is going to be done … and he’s got his medication,” she said.

“They were like ‘Yeah, we’ve got a management plan’.”

But Ms. Gott said when she dropped him at the center for his orientation, staff told her they “didn’t know” about his medication requirements, and the training requirements meant the center would not be ready to care for Leo until November.

She said she went to the center on August 16 and followed up with a phone call on August 17 to confirm if they would be able to get everything ready by September 17, and she said the center said yes.

“I was a bit gobsmacked really,” Ms. Gott said.

“I was due to leave him there the next day, which I can’t do, because his medication requires a trained person,” Ms. Gott said.

She is now unsure when she can return to work, and said an alternative childcare center would not be able to take her son until January.

“I was meant to return on October 10 … so I put off going back to work for now,” Ms. Gott said.

“It’s just me, I have to work out what I can live on.”

‘Disappointing,’ says Epilepsy Foundation

Chief executive officer of the Epilepsy Foundation, Graeme Shears, said they had worked hard with schools and early education providers to ensure training was accessible.

“If someone approached us today, we’d be saying they could complete that training in October,” Mr Shears said.

“If the organization had come to us, they would have had everyone trained, assuming there are no problems with the management plan, but generally two to three weeks is the maximum time frame from getting an inquiry until someone completes their training.”

Mr Shears said epilepsy was still not well understood and could often be more “complex” than anaphylaxis or asthma management.

“There are lots of different presentations and types of epilepsy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the means now to support people,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that, despite the availability of training, it hasn’t happened.”

More time needed

In a statement, Journey Early Learning said the time frame from when Ms. Gott first approached the center and the date Leo was meant to start attending had not provided enough time for the staff to undertake the training courses, which take between three to five hours to complete.

“This is not a case of we weren’t willing or able to accommodate Leo,” the statement said.

“It was more we needed to ensure we had everything in place to fully meet his medical needs.”

However, the statement said it did not contact Epilepsy Australia regarding Leo’s management until 10 days prior to Leo’s start date.

“At all times, Leo’s welfare was at the center of our efforts. We have started to form a connection with Leo and would be happy to welcome him as soon as possible — when we are prepared for his needs,” it said.



Source:, Zilla Gordon

Researchers develop algorithm that can help decode brain scans to identify type of epilepsy

Researchers develop algorithm that can help decode brain scans to identify type of epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disease where the brain emits sudden bursts of electrical signals in a short amount of time.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), in collaboration with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh, have developed an algorithm that they said can help decode brain scans to identify the occurrence and type of epilepsy.

Currently, a patent has been filed for the work and the algorithm is being tested for its reliability by physicians at AIIMS Rishikesh, Bengaluru-based IISc said.

Epilepsy is a neurological disease where the brain emits sudden bursts of electrical signals in a short amount of time, resulting in seizures, fits, and in extreme cases, death.

Based on the point of origin of the brain’s erratic signals, epilepsy is classified as either focal or generalized epilepsy.

Focal epilepsy occurs when the erratic signals are confined to a specific region in the brain. If the signals are at random locations, then it is termed as generalized epilepsy.

To identify whether a patient is epileptic, neurophysiologists need to manually inspect EEGs (electroencephalograms), which can capture such erratic signals, an IISc statement noted on Wednesday.

Visual inspection of EEG can become tiring after prolonged periods, and may occasionally lead to errors, says Hardik J Pandya, Assistant Professor at the Department of Electronic Systems Engineering (DESE) and the corresponding author of the study published in ‘Biomedical Signal Processing and Control’.

“The research aims to differentiate EEG of normal subjects from epileptic EEGs. Additionally, the developed algorithm attempts to identify the types of seizures. Our work is to help the neurologists make an efficient and quick automated screening and diagnosis,” he adds.

In their study, the team reports a novel algorithm that can sift through EEG data and identify signatures of epilepsy from the electrical signal patterns, according to the statement.

After initial training, the algorithm was able to detect whether a human subject could have epilepsy or not – based on these patterns in their respective analyses – with a high degree of accuracy, the researchers say.

To develop and train the algorithm, the researchers first examined EEG data from 88 human subjects acquired at AIIMS Rishikesh. Each subject underwent a 45-minute EEG test, divided into two parts: an initial 10-minute test when the subject was awake, which included photic stimulation and hyperventilation, followed by a 35-minute sleep period when the subject was asked to sleep.

Next, the team analyzed this data and classified different wave patterns into sharp signals, spikes, and slow waves.

An epileptic subject shows a different set of patterns compared to a healthy individual.

The team ran their algorithm on a new set of EEG data from subjects for whom the classification (whether they had epilepsy, and if so, what type of epilepsy they had) was already known to the doctors. This blind validation study successfully classified the subjects accurately in nearly 91 per cent of the cases, the statement said.

“We hope to refine this further by testing on more data to consider more variabilities of human EEGs until we reach the point where this becomes completely translational and robust,” says Rathin K Joshi, a PhD student in DESE and first author of the study.



Bariatric Surgery Ups Epilepsy Risk

Bariatric Surgery Ups Epilepsy Risk

Epilepsy may be a long-term complication, but mechanism is unclear

Bariatric surgery increased the risk of epilepsy, a retrospective Canadian study showed.

Over a minimum of 3 years follow-up, bariatric surgery patients had a 45% increased risk of developing epilepsy compared with people who did not have bariatric surgery, reported Jorge Burneo, MD, MSPH, of Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues.

Stroke during the follow-up period increased epilepsy risk for bariatric surgery patients, they wrote in Neurology

The findings echoed earlier research that showed elevated risks of epilepsy and seizures after gastric bypass surgery in Sweden. The Swedish study suggested “bariatric surgery may be an unrecognized epilepsy risk factor; however, this possible association has not been thoroughly explored,” Burneo and colleagues noted.

Late neurologic complications of bariatric procedures — defined as those that appear 3 to 20 months after surgery — occur in 5% to 16% of patients, they observed.

“Our findings suggest that epilepsy may be among these long-term neurological complications; however, the mechanism remains unclear,” they wrote.

Malabsorption may be a factor, the researchers suggested. “Although limited, some research investigating the role of micronutrient deficiencies in epilepsy exists,” they pointed out.

“One study observed significantly lower vitamin C, zinc, and copper levels among patients with epilepsy and no history of antiepileptic drug treatment relative to healthy controls,” they continued. “Another study of a small number of patients with epilepsy found that normalizing serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels significantly reduced median seizure frequency by 40%.”

Burneo and colleagues used health administrative databases in Ontario, Canada to identify 16,958 adults who had bariatric surgery for obesity from July 2010 through December 2016 (exposed participants) and 622,514 adults who were hospitalized with a diagnosis of obesity but did not have bariatric surgery during the same period (unexposed participants).

The study excluded people with a history of seizures, epilepsy, seizure or epilepsy risk factors, psychiatric disorders, or substance abuse or dependence.

Mean age was about 47 and approximately two-thirds of participants were women. The study followed patients through December 2019.

Total and median follow-up was 3,691,411 and 5.8 person-years in the exposed cohort and 3,818,669 and 5.9 person-years in the unexposed cohort.

For the primary analysis, the researchers used inverse probability of treatment weighting to control for confounding. In the weighted cohorts, estimated rates of epilepsy were 50.1 per 100,000 person-years in the exposed group and 34.1 per 100,000 person-years in the unexposed group.

“We did not find that patients were at differential epilepsy risk as a function of the type of procedure received,” the researchers said. “However, we likely had insufficient power to detect differences in risk between the procedure types.”

Stroke was a significant risk factor for new-onset epilepsy in the exposed group. “However, the very wide confidence interval around this estimate (95% CI 4.26-46.25) indicates that we observed a small number of strokes,” Burneo and colleagues wrote. “Future research should seek to provide a more precise estimate of the effect of stroke occurring after bariatric surgery on epilepsy risk.”

A limitation of the analysis was that researchers could not assess obesity status or BMI throughout the study. Some obesity-related conditions may affect epilepsy risk, Burneo’s group noted.


Source:, Judy George

Taipei Zoo Panda On Epilepsy Medication

Taipei Zoo Panda On Epilepsy Medication

The Taipei Zoo says one of its original pandas is now on medication for

The zoo says keepers first notice that Tuan Tuan was unable to walk as normal
on August 23rd, and a check of security footage revealed that he had been
foaming at the mouth earlier that day.

Tuan Tuan also suffered several episodes of epilepsy days later.

Vets examined the panda, and say he is suffering from “encephalomalacia”, a
loss of brain tissue due to bleeding or inflammation.

The vets say Tuan Tuan is currently on medication for the condition, and his
appetite and mobility has returned to near-normal levels.

The zoo says it is running further tests and will have more results to share
within a week or two.



Two thirds of people don’t know what to do if they witness an epileptic seizure – survey

Two thirds of people don’t know what to do if they witness an epileptic seizure – survey

Only one in three people in Ireland would know what to do if they saw someone having an epileptic seizure despite more than half of adults knowing a person with epilepsy, new research shows.

The survey also shows 78% of people believe there is a social stigma attached to epilepsy. Some 91% agreed there is a lack of understanding of epilepsy among the public.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by a tendency to have recurring seizures. It has been estimated over 45,000 people in Ireland have epilepsy, a ratio of one in a hundred people.

This includes between 10,000 and 15,000 people living with uncontrolled seizures.

However, 81% of the public underestimated the prevalence of epilepsy in Ireland, believing it to be a rare condition, the survey found.

It found that 56% of adults who responded know someone with this condition, and 57% have witnessed an attack.

Despite this, just 35% answered yes when asked: “Do you think you would know what to do if someone was having an epileptic seizure in your presence?”

A further 42% said no and 23% saying they do not know whether they know or not.

The research, published on Friday, was conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of Epilepsy Ireland.

Peter Murphy, the CEO of Epilepsy Ireland said the findings show further education around this illness is needed.

“We’ve seen a real shift in how people with epilepsy are included and supported in education and employment,” he said.

“80% of respondents in the Amárach survey agreed that, in most cases, having epilepsy does not affect a person’s ability to work.

This is particularly heartening because negative attitudes towards epilepsy in the workplace has been a hugely challenging issue for many people living with the condition in the past. 

He said the findings show the overwhelming majority of people recognize the need for further awareness and education around epilepsy.

Some 87% of those who answered said they think it is important to know what to do if they witness someone having a seizure.

Advice on how to act includes knowing that an ambulance is not always needed.

An ambulance could be called if this is a person’s first known seizure or it lasts more than five minutes or more seizures follow without recovery among other emergency situations, Epilepsy Ireland advises.

Witnesses are advised not to restrain someone having a seizure unless they are in danger, and to stay with the person until they recover fully.

Epilepsy Ireland’s annual conference takes place in person in Dublin and online tomorrow, Saturday September 24, and will launch a strategic plan for supporting people with this condition over the next five years.

“Our new strategy is ambitious and resourcing it — especially in the current economic climate — will be a major challenge, but it is a plan that we are fully committed to achieving on behalf of all people we represent,” Mr Murphy said.


Source:, Niamh Griddin

The Impact of a Pharmacist on Epilepsy

The Impact of a Pharmacist on Epilepsy


About 3.4 million people nationwide have active epilepsy and pharmacists can ensure that epilepsy does not control their lives. Globally, an estimated 65 million people suffer from epilepsy, which causes recurring, unprovoked seizures, and is the world’s fourth most common neurological disorder. Epilepsy comes with its own series of comorbidities, such as learning disabilities, autism, anxiety, and depression.

The goal of treatment for epilepsy is to help patients lower their seizure rate to zero with minimal adverse events (AEs). Many patients with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures despite taking multiple antiseizure medications. Despite the availability of more than 20 FDA-approved antiepileptic drugs for the treatment of epilepsy, treatment outcomes have remained relatively stagnant for the past 20 years.

Epilepsy is typically diagnosed following 2 unprovoked seizures or 1 unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more that are not caused by a known and reversible medical condition. Most epilepsy cases manifest during childhood and frequently evolve in later years.

Many patients with epilepsy will experience multiple types of seizure along with symptoms of other neurological conditions. The disease is also common among individuals 55 years of age and older, with close to 1 million US adults in this age group diagnosed with the condition.

The William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital (WSMVH) in Madison, Wisconsin offers an epilepsy clinic each year to provide care for veterans. The multidisciplinary team involves the help of clinical pharmacy practitioners (CPP) and pharmacy residents who guide patients in understanding their medication regimen and the importance of medication adherence.

Although this clinic has been around for decades, the current group of health care workers sought to perform a study on the impact of pharmacists on patient outcomes.

Study Description

WSMVH created a single-center, retrospective, quality improvement project to evaluate pharmacists’ impact on the epilepsy clinic. Between October 2017 and June 2021, they performed a chart review of 446 patients seen by CPPs or pharmacy residents to assess the different types of interventions that occurred during the visits.

Some of the treatment interventions included:

  • Medication initiations/discontinuations
  • Dose changes
  • Nonpharmacologic interventions (including education)
  • Mental health screenings
  • Consultations to other specialties placed
  • Laboratory tests ordered

Key Findings

Early screening, detection, and treatment of comorbidities are essential in the care of epilepsy patients. Pharmacists have been a part of many treatment interventions throughout the years at the WSMVH epilepsy clinic, handling 43% of patients who came through the clinic. Overall, the addition of pharmacists to the health care team allowed more timely access to care for the patients.


Patients with epilepsy rely on medications to help them maintain a sense of normalcy in their daily lives. Pharmacists support these patients, as exemplified through this study. Epilepsy is a complicated disease that requires time and attention, and patients deserve the top level of care. Pharmacists are an essential cog in the machination that is epilepsy.


Source:, Christina Nault

Do absence seizures happen during sleep?

Do absence seizures happen during sleep?

Lack of sleep can trigger an absence seizure. Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Keep your room dark and quiet. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble sleeping.

What are signs of nocturnal seizures? General Symptoms. The symptoms of nocturnal seizures include daytime sleepiness, confusion, attention difficulties, migraines and more. These symptoms can affect people’s quality of life and lead to increased sleep deprivation with more symptoms. Those with epilepsy may have nocturnal seizures only and their associated symptoms.

What causes seizures in Your Sleep? Seizures caused by epilepsy that occur during the night are common, as sleep seems to trigger the electrical responses that are responsible for them. In fact, some individuals with epilepsy experience their convulsions almost solely during their sleep cycles, never even realizing that they are occurring.

Does anyone have seizures when falling asleep? Nocturnal seizures happen when a person is sleeping. They are most common: Right after falling asleep; Just before waking up; Soon after waking up; Any seizure can occur during sleep. However, there are certain seizure conditions that are more likely to experience nocturnal seizures, including: Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy; Awakening tonic-clonic (grand mal)

Why do seizures happen during sleep? It’s believed that sleep seizures are triggered by changes in the electrical activity in your brain during certain stages of sleeping and waking. Most nocturnal seizures occur in stage 1 and stage 2, which are moments of lighter sleep. Nocturnal seizures can also occur upon waking.

What are the causes of night seizures?

What are the causes of night seizures? Night seizures may be triggered by a sudden surge of fever. It’s pretty clear when this is the case because a child usually is flushed red and hot to the touch. But when there’s no obvious reason for a night seizure, the cause may be benign rolandic epilepsy (also called benign focal epilepsy of childhood).

What are the signs of epilepsy? Though seizures are the main symptom of all types of epilepsy, the full scope of epilepsy symptoms and signs varies. Common symptoms include muscle jerking and contractions, brief loss of consciousness or awareness, weakness, anxiety, and staring.

What are symptoms of seizures? Seizures are changes in the brain’s electrical activity. These changes can cause dramatic, noticeable symptoms, or in other cases no symptoms at all. The symptoms of a severe seizure include violent shaking and a loss of control.



Great Southern mum helps save toddler after epileptic seizure on Narrikup farm

Great Southern mum helps save toddler after epileptic seizure on Narrikup farm

South coast WA sheep farmer and mother-of-three Kate Mitchell knew her son may be in danger after hearing the following six words.

“Mummy, mummy come look at Darcy,” her four-year-old son Harry had said.

At first, she thought her children were just being “ratbags”.

Perhaps they’d taken off all their clothes or scribbled on the wall, she thought to herself.

But what she found was far more gut-wrenching and every parent’s worst nightmare.

Her one-year-old son Darcy was lying on the floor. And he was blue.

Her usually bubbly young toddler was unresponsive and frothing at the mouth.

Ms Mitchell scooped him up and ran to her kitchen where she got her father-in-law Ross to call an ambulance.

She feared Darcy had choked on something and began back blows before commencing CPR.

“At that point, it felt like an eternity, but colour started to come back to his cheeks — he was very, very blue,” Ms Mitchell told ABC.

They put Darcy in their ute and decided to try to meet the Mount Barker ambulance service along the way to save time.

A long way from help

The Mitchells live on a farm in Narrikup, about 50 kilometres north-west of Albany and 400km south-east of Perth.

The area is plagued with poor phone reception and Ms Mitchell remembers telling the triple-0 phone operator that she had not hung up on them and it was indeed just bad coverage.

They also copped a speeding fine on the way, but Ms Mitchell says it was later overturned.

She saw police officers on the drive and managed to use them to help flag down the ambulance.

“I had no shoes, I stunk like sheep yards, it was pretty rancid,” Ms Mitchell said.

When the ambulance arrived, Ms Mitchell recognized one of the paramedics as her husband’s former next-door neighbor.

“I knew that day that we had a guardian angel, it is tricky enough to hand your child over, but [luckily she] was there,” Ms Mitchell said.

Darcy was taken to hospital but was sent home a few days later without a diagnosis.

Two weeks later, it happened again.

The Mitchells put Darcy back into the ute, this time beating the ambulance, and headed to the hospital again.

There he had his worst and longest seizure yet.

“He was scared, his eyes were stuck and he was just screaming,” she said.

“We were beside ourselves but tried to keep it together.”

Darcy was flown to Perth for more specialized treatment.

He was diagnosed with childhood focal epilepsy — a brain condition that causes seizures.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, one in every 200 children has the disorder.

Ms Mitchell said following Darcy’s first seizure in February, Harry had described him as doing a “flippy, floppy fish dance”.

She said that was the first clue that maybe Darcy had an underlying health condition such as epilepsy.

There is no cure for the condition and the toddler now takes medication to help prevent seizures.

Although rare, epilepsy can be fatal.

Gift bags for other families

Ms Mitchell described her son as a “boisterous, little bubbly boy”.

She has even had to put a lock on the farm gate because Darcy liked to wander down to the sheep.

The mother-of-three wanted to do something to raise awareness about epilepsy and after being in and out of hospital with her son, she decided to create gift bags for families like theirs.

The gift bags contain items such as a toothbrush, soap and slippers for families who live rurally and can’t go home for supplies during unexpected hospital trips.

It was inspired by her experience of turning up to the hospital with no supplies — stinking of sheep — post farm work.

The bags also come with toys for the children, as many of the hospital’s toys were locked away due to COVID protocols.

The bags have been distributed across the country and Ms Mitchell has created a group called The Darcy Effect where people can donate items too.

She said it was all about giving back and helping those in need.





Miami, FL —

 On Wednesday, September 7th, 2022, the cutting-edge Brain Institute for Pediatric Epilepsy Care & Treatment Program at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital received a total of $500,000 thanks to the legislative efforts of State Senator Ileana Garcia this past congressional session. As one of the nation’s most premier and enduring comprehensive epilepsy programs for children, this funding is vital towards investing in groundbreaking medical technology and novel intervention for youth suffering from seizures.

Each year, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital welcomes thousands of patients from across the country and over the world that are referred to the notable treatment program in South Florida searching for innovative therapeutic solutions related to epilepsy. Even in the event that a child is struggling with seizures that cannot be regulated medically, Nicklaus has proven itself among the most specialized and internationally recognized in pediatric epilepsy surgery that focuses on using the least invasive methods like MRI guided laser ablation.

Another of the technological advancements that do not rely on aggressively invasive methods applied at Nicklaus in order to accurately localize and analyze seizure activity has been through the precise use of Electrical Source Imaging (ESI) which is part of the ingenious Compumedics High Density Electro-Encephalogram (EEG) System. These pieces of breakthrough equipment are irreplaceable when it comes to pinpointing convulsions within the brain whilst identifying specific seizure onset zone prompts. This paves the way for accurate diagnosis leading to individualized treatment plans, combined with other imaging diagnostics, and any other impending surgical requirements recommended by specialists.

The cause has a special connection to Senator Garcia as she stated: “As someone who grew up with epilepsy, I know the significant impact this will make when diagnosing and treating patients with epilepsy and other seizure related issues in our community.”



Scientists Have Long Dreamed of a Memory Prosthesis. The First Human Trials Look Promising

Scientists Have Long Dreamed of a Memory Prosthesis. The First Human Trials Look Promising

Memories are finicky. I’ve been touring Atlantic Canada for the past three weeks, and already my recollection of the trip—dates, places, foods, adventures—doesn’t match up with pins on Google Maps or journal entries. My brain was learning new experiences and encoding memories—just not strongly enough to last even a week.

Memory retention gets worse with age. For people with brain injuries, such as from a stroke or physical trauma to the brain, the impairment can be utterly debilitating. What if there was a way to artificially boost the brain’s ability to retain memories?

The idea sounds like a Black Mirror episode. But this month, a new study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience provided some of the first evidence that a “memory prosthetic” is possible in humans. The prosthetic isn’t a device; rather, it’s a series of electrodes implanted inside the hippocampus—a structure buried deep within the brain that’s critical for episodic memories—that encodes the when, where, and what of our daily experiences.

The setup relies on an utterly unromantic view of memory. Rather than the waves of rich, detailed, emotional memories that flood our brains, it holds that memories are simply electrical signals generated by a well-regulated neural highway inside the hippocampus. If we can capture these signals while a person is learning, then in theory we could play the recordings back to the brain—in the form of electrical zaps—and potentially boost that particular memory.

The team built on their previous work of engineering memory prosthetics. In people with epilepsy, they showed that by re-introducing neural signals encoding one type of memory in a specific task, the zaps boosted recall by over 50 percent.

The study involved a small cohort. But incredibly, those who suffered from previous memory loss showed the best improvements.

To be clear, the team did not develop a video camera for memory. The system partially mimics the hippocampus’ normal process for memory encoding and recall, which can be notoriously subjective and somewhat unreliable. A similar memory prosthetic might not work well in the real world, where we’re constantly bombarded with new experiences and memories.

That said, the study shows a way to help people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other causes of memory loss retain snippets of their lives that could otherwise be lost.

“It’s a glimpse into the future of what we might be able to do to restore memory,” said Dr. Kim Shapiro at the University of Birmingham, who was not involved in the study, to MIT Technology Review.

How Does It Work?

It all comes down to the electrical pulses surrounding the hippocampus and within it.

Let’s zoom in. The hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure, is often described as a monolithic hub for memories. But—insert food analogy—rather than a uniform block of cheese, it’s more like a multi-layered cheese dip, with electrical pulses flowing through different layers as it encodes, retains, and recalls memories.

For the memory prosthetic, the team focused on two specific regions: CA1 and CA3, which form a highly interconnected neural circuit. Decades of work in rodents, primates, and humans have pointed to this neural highway as the crux for encoding memories.

The team members, led by Drs. Dong Song from the University of Southern California and Robert Hampson at Wake Forest School of Medicine, are no strangers to memory prosthetics. With “memory bioengineer” Dr. Theodore Berger—who’s worked on hijacking the CA3-CA1 circuit for memory improvement for over three decades—the dream team had their first success in humans in 2015.

The central idea is simple: replicate the hippocampus’ signals with a digital replacement. It’s no easy task. Unlike computer circuits, neural circuits are non-linear. This means that signals are often extremely noisy and overlap in time, which bolsters—or inhibits—neural signals. As Berger said at the time: “It’s a chaotic black box.”

To crack the memory code, the team worked out two algorithms. The first, called memory decoding model (MDM), takes an average of the electrical patterns across multiple people as they form memories. The other, called multi-input, multi-output (MIMO), is a tad more sophisticated, as it incorporates both input and output electrical patterns—that is, the CA3-CA1 circuit—and mimics those signals in both space and timing. In theory, pulsing both electrical signals based on MDM and MIMO back into the hippocampus should give it a boost.

In a series of experiments, first in rats and monkeys, then in healthy humans, the team found that their memory prosthetics could improve memory when neural circuits were temporarily disrupted, such as with drugs. But bypassing injured circuits isn’t enough—what they wanted was a true memory prosthetic that could replace the hippocampus if damaged.

A Whole New World

The new study benefited from a valuable neuroscience resource: people with epilepsy who have electrodes implanted into memory-related regions of their brains. The implants, deep inside the brain, help neurosurgeons track down the source of peoples’ seizures. Among the 25 participants selected, some did not exhibit symptoms other than epilepsy, whereas others had mild to moderate brain injuries.

Here’s the test. The participants were shown an image on a screen, then after a delay, they were shown the same image with up to seven different alternatives. Their goal was to pick out the familiar image. Each participant rapidly cycled through 100-150 trials, during which their hippocampal activity was recorded to capture their short-term memory.

After at least 15 minutes, the participants were shown 3 images and asked to rank the familiarity of each. It’s a tricky task: one was a sample image from the trial, another an alternative that seemed familiar, and one never previously seen. This was intended to capture their long-term memory.

Flash forward. One day between removing the electrodes, the participants underwent another round of memory tests similar to the ones before. Some people received electrical stimulation based on their own neural signals, processed by either the MDM or MIMO algorithm. Others were zapped with random pulses. The last group received no stimulation at all.

Overall, stimulating the brains of people with epilepsy boosted memory performance by roughly 15 percent. Those pulsed with MDM—which uses the averaged electrical signals—had a measly 13.8 percent boost. In contrast, the MIMO model, which mimics neural signals of each hippocampi, made their performance improve by 36 percent.

“Irrespective of baseline memory function (impaired vs. normal), the MIMO model produces at least double the facilitation compared to the MDM model,” the team said.

The Long Road Ahead

While promising, the study is just the next small step towards a hippocampal prosthetic. Because the participants had their electrodes removed following the second test, we don’t know whether—nor for how long—the effects lasted, or if continuous stimulation is necessary.

While a memory prosthetic could benefit people with Alzheimer’s, lots more details need to be ironed out. The electrode setup here is relatively crude—would a microarray or a non-invasive device be possible? If so, should the device be turned on 24/7? After all, we don’t remember all of our memories—there’s a sort of synaptic “purging” that’s thought to occur during sleep.

For now, the technology is far from being ready for clinical use. But it’s a glimpse of what could be. At the very least the study shows that, similar to a brain-controlled prosthetic limb, a memory chip isn’t impossible for people who need it the most.


Source:, Shelly Fan

Advice On How To Get Rid Of Anxiety In Your Life

Advice On How To Get Rid Of Anxiety In Your Life

Many epileptics report feeling anxious after an episode.

Because of brain chemicals released during seizures, some people may experience unusually high levels of anxiety. Fear and anxiety have been mentioned as emotional side effects in those who take anti-seizure medication.

The stress of persistent concern may weaken you. Anxiety can strike at any time, even in the midst of a pleasurable activity. If this makes you unhappy, you should probably call it a day. This essay will provide you with helpful hints that you can utilize to permanently erase your worry.

If you start to feel nervous, go for a walk and see if it helps. Exercise increases the creation of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which improves mood and happiness. Get active; it’s one of the finest ways to relieve tension.

Maintaining a regular eating schedule is vital, but it is critical if you suffer from panic attacks.

Stop your prolonged fast immediately. Your blood sugar levels will be easier to control, and your anxiety attacks will be milder. By keeping a healthy snack on hand, you can keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Keep doing what you’ve always done and don’t change. Some people believe that being alone emotionally drains them. Keep yourself busy to avoid reflecting on the negative things that have transpired. You won’t have as much time to worry if your schedule is strict.

Preventing problems from arising in the first place is quite important while dealing with the stresses of daily life.

To relieve stress when time is of the importance, get a head start on a project at work or school. These techniques can assist you in maintaining a cheerful attitude.

Speak with a family member or a close friend whose loyalty you can rely on. This individual could act as a “sounding board” for you to discuss your worries and troubles with a third party. Instead of suppressing your emotions, talk about them with a close friend or relative. It will only make things more difficult for you if you pretend that everything is OK when it is not.

Everyone on Earth has felt the chilly grasp of dread at some point.

When we feel danger, our bodies tighten and our heart rates raise reflexively. As a result, it is easier to focus on specific goals.

If you’re concerned about your mental health after going through a stressful time, you should get assistance. Talk to your doctor over the phone about your feelings. You should expect the exam to include a number of questions geared to elicit as much information about your present health and past medical history as feasible.

A variety of tests can be performed to rule out any physical causes.

They’ll want to know how long you’ve been sick and what changes to your schedule you’ve had to make as a result. To understand more about the exact type of anxiety you are experiencing, your doctor can examine the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Those who are anxious can benefit from talking to a therapist. Doctors may advise patients to use medicine to relieve symptoms for a brief time or for the rest of their lives. Specific medications can help to reduce the physiological consequences of anxiety. Beta-blockers, which are commonly taken to treat cardiac problems, have also been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety.

Anxiety problems are increasingly being treated with behavioral therapy.

Patients benefit from treatment because they learn to detect and control their symptoms on their own. They develop self-control and how to rely only on themselves over time and effort.

Anti-anxiety drugs may be effective, but they carry a significant risk of addiction and can be difficult to discontinue. Patients with epilepsy should be cautious when taking anti-seizure medications, as some of these medications may also have anti-anxiety qualities. Anxiety is common in epilepsy patients. Seizure fear is frequently a contributing cause.

In addition to physical symptoms, those suffering from this illness may face social isolation and mental distress. Making friends with the locals is more crucial than ever. The extent to which the mind and brain contribute to the development of anxiety is currently being debated. The public’s perception of people with epilepsy is not always favorable.

Anxiety is a common side effect of epilepsy.

It’s vital to understand what makes epileptics anxious. As a result, we were able to assess our patients’ anxiousness.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of anxiety and its accompanying symptoms.

Patients with epilepsy are more likely than the general population to suffer from emotional disturbance. It is widely accepted that those suffering from severe anxiety disorders are more likely to be miserable in general. The good news is that these disorders are effectively treated by contemporary medicine. With additional information, these individuals may be able to receive better diagnosis and treatments. To treat anxiety and epilepsy, pregabalin is available in three capsule strengths: Generic Lyrica 300 mgPregalin 150mg, and Pregalin 50mg.

Achieving an attainable and tangible objective has been shown in multiple studies to alleviate anxiety.

Setting weekly objectives and working toward them is the most effective method to ensure that you give your all every day. You can put your day’s troubles behind you by busy your mind. You can significantly enhance your life if you are prepared to put in the effort.

Some people discover that fasting is an excellent way to relax. Caffeinated beverages, processed foods manufactured with white flour, and foods high in added sugar should all be avoided because they are unhealthy. There’s a good probability they’ll find a way to make things tough for you.

You should take any anti-anxiety medication prescribed by your doctor on a daily basis, preferably at the same time. You might keep it in the medicine cabinet or a drawer in the bathroom. Many medications require consistent administration over an extended period of time to act properly.

It is advisable to communicate your concerns with a close friend or family member rather than keep them to yourself. Sharing your feelings with a close friend or family member can be a terrific approach to receive their perspective on the situation and the motivation you need to stay positive. You may find that doing so slightly relaxes you.

Exercise is a wonderful technique to relieve anxiety since the physical demands of exercise lower cortisol levels.

Try going for a short walk or participating in some mild exercise if stress leaves you feeling physically spent. Soon, satisfaction and calm will pervade every facet of your existence.

If stress or anxiety are preventing you from acting, try shifting your perspective on life. Thinking optimistically may assist you in overcoming any leftover blues. You have perfect command over your mind. As a result, you’ll feel less pressure, making it easier to focus on your current activity.

Homoeopathic approaches may provide relief for persons suffering from anxiety who are hesitant to seek pharmacological treatment. They are available in the vast majority of retailers that have an organic department. If you’ve tried traditional medicine without success, you might want to see a homoeopath.

Avoiding folks who are continuously nasty toward you can help you reduce your stress.

Also, avoid those who continually criticize you and have low self-esteem. People who continuously criticize others will make you feel inadequate.

Never let fear prevent you from doing something that you enjoy. The choice that most aligns with your fundamental ideas should be chosen. It serves no reason to continue living an unhappy existence. Please feel free to return and read this essay again if necessary. If you wish to conquer your phobias, you should attentively study this article and put its suggestions into action.


Source:, KishtiRoy

Teen overcomes epilepsy, begins new chapter at Baylor

Teen overcomes epilepsy, begins new chapter at Baylor

Since her diagnosis with epilepsy, going back to school has always looked a little different for Isla Ritchie.

Now as a college freshman, she’s having to perform all her back to school responsibilities all by herself.

“People would say, ‘I know how you feel,’ but they really wouldn’t understand how difficult it was to have a seizure a day,” she said.

At the age of eleven, Isla was diagnosed with epilepsy. A year later, after trying out multiple treatment options, she found a solution that worked for her.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy helps calm down her brain activity every 30 seconds to prevent seizures.

After she got the VNS device, it became her mission to help her classmates better understand what to do during a seizure.

“(In middle school) I dropped to the ground and almost hit my head on a cabinet or chair,” Isla said. “One of the guys moved all the chairs and called the nurse. They did all the correct things they were supposed to do.”

Flash forward to 2022, she’s now starting her freshman year at Baylor and teaching others like her roommates about her condition.

“When I told them they were like ‘I’m sorry about this,’ like, don’t be sorry,” Isla said. “They fully supported me and wanted to know what to do if I had a seizure.”

Isla is now on her own, filling her own prescriptions and attending doctor appointments. Her mom Lisa Ritchie couldn’t be prouder.

“A few years ago I never would’ve thought this was going to be an option for her,” Lisa said.

At her dream school Isla is fulfilling a dream she never thought possible.

“It’s been amazing,” Isla said. “I’ve met so many people – people in my class, people in clubs I’ve joined. And they’re all here to support me through what I’ve been through and what I have.”

This Saturday marks three years since a teen with epilepsy had her last seizure.


Source:, Alex Fulton

Things That Can Trigger a Seizure Even If You Don’t Have Epilepsy

Things That Can Trigger a Seizure Even If You Don’t Have Epilepsy

Seizures don’t just happen with epilepsy. Here’s what can trigger a seizure —from stress to lack of sleep and more.

Having a seizure doesn’t necessarily mean you have epilepsy. A seizure is a sudden attack of brain activity that typically lasts a few seconds or minutes. It can cause muscle spasms (convulsions), as well as confusion, loss of consciousness, and other symptoms.

Epilepsy is a group of brain disorders that cause seizures. You can be diagnosed with epilepsy after having two or more unprovoked seizures within 24 hours of each other. This means the seizures weren’t triggered by anything.

But it’s also possible for someone to have seizures yet not have epilepsy. The seizures may be less frequent. For example, some people may only have one seizure in their lifetime. In other cases, there may be a known factor that provoked the seizure. In general, certain health factors can trigger a seizure. These include excess stress, low blood sugar, lack of sleep, and medication side effects, among others.

Seizure Triggers

About 1 in 10 people will experience a seizure in their lifetime. Seizures and epilepsy can often arise after a brain injury, brain tumor, or stroke (blockage, bursting, or leaking of brain blood vessels). Here are other health factors that can provoke seizures.

Lack of sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for your health. It helps your brain process memories and things you’ve learned. But some people can have seizures that disrupt their sleep. Having a nighttime seizure may be a sign of a sleep disorder or epilepsy. If you have epilepsy, it may be likely that you have a sleep disorder too.

But can lack of sleep cause a seizure? While sleep deprivation isn’t the sole cause of a seizure, experts know that sleep and seizures have a two-way relationship: Just as seizures can interrupt sleep, a frequent lack of sleep can trigger a seizure or lead to worse seizures.


Stress can trigger seizures, though the reason isn’t entirely clear. But experts know that the hippocampus—a part of the brain involved in learning and memory—is sensitive to stress and helps manage it. Stress is linked to increased brain activity in this region, which could set off a seizure. For people with epilepsy, stress is one of the most common seizure triggers.

Also, stress can lead to non-epileptic seizures (NES). These seizures might happen from psychological distress, mental trauma, or certain brain conditions, such as narcolepsy (a sleep disorder) or Tourette syndrome (a disorder of sudden repeated movements and sounds).

About 5% to 20% of people with epilepsy may actually have NES. Unlike epileptic seizures, an NES affects the brain differently and can’t be treated with anti-seizure medications. Instead, they can be managed through therapy and reducing stress.

Low blood sugar

Hypoglycemia, or having too low sugar levels in your blood, can provoke changes in your brain activity, leading to seizures. It can also cause strokes, which are linked to seizures.

Several factors can cause someone to have low blood sugar. For example, people with diabetes who are taking insulin can have low blood sugar, especially after exercising. In people without diabetes, low blood sugar can happen from drinking alcohol, hormone deficiencies, severe life-threatening infections (sepsis), or severe heart, kidney, or liver failure.


Too much sun exposure and extreme heat can cause heatstroke. Your usual body temperature of about 98 degrees Fahrenheit climbs to over 106 degrees F within 15 minutes. This overheating might also affect your brain. For example, symptoms of heatstroke include seizures, along with slurred speech, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a potentially fatal condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Alcohol withdrawal

Long-term, regular alcohol use can lead to addiction and dependency. Suddenly stopping alcohol use can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, jumpiness, and fatigue. These symptoms usually peak within 24 to 72 hours of stopping alcohol use and can last for a few days or weeks.8

Severe cases of alcohol withdrawal can develop into a state of delirium tremens, which can result in seizures, agitation, hallucinations, and severe confusion. This may require treatment at a hospital or specialized care facility.

High fever

A febrile seizure is a seizure that happens with a high fever during an illness or infection. It typically affects children, toddlers, or infants. Though the exact cause of febrile seizures is unknown, some people may have a genetic predisposition for developing them.

Usually there is a low chance of having repeat febrile seizures. But certain factors can increase your risk of having more than one febrile seizure. This includes a family history of epilepsy, prior brain or nerve damage, or a medical history of prolonged seizures.

Medication side effects

Seizures can be a serious side effect of certain medications and drug intoxication. Researchers have found that 9% of status epilepticus—life-threatening seizures that last longer than five minutes—can be linked to drugs or poisoning.

Several legal and illegal substances can cause seizures. The most commonly reported are:

  • Antidepressants
  • Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine
  • Diphenhydramine, an allergy medication
  • Tramadol, a painkiller
  • Isoniazid, an antibiotic

Prior to taking any medication, be sure you understand the potential risks and be mindful of symptoms. Seek medical attention if you are experiencing any severe side effects.

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can happen when a physical injury damages the tissues of the brain. This could be a head injury from a fall, sports activity, or a car accident. A concussion can be a mild type of TBI.

TBIs can lead to seizures, as well as headache, loss of consciousness, confusion, speech and memory difficulties, mood changes, and other symptoms. TBIs usually require immediate medical attention, especially within 24 hours of the injury. Severe cases can cause permanent disability or be potentially fatal.

Seizures might occur within the first week of a TBI. This can lead to developing a type of epilepsy later on known as post-traumatic epilepsy. But some people could also develop more isolated, post-traumatic seizures after a TBI.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

While seizure symptoms like convulsions and loss of consciousness can be very alarming, not every seizure may be a medical emergency. However, it’s essential to get emergency help if you or someone you see experiences:

  • A first seizure
  • Difficulty breathing or regaining consciousness
  • Seizure longer than five minutes
  • A second seizure shortly after the first
  • Injury due to the seizure
  • The seizure occurs while in the water
  • Seizure alongside diabetes, heart disease, or during pregnancy

If you’re concerned about these symptoms and are experiencing them, talk to your healthcare provider. If you know someone who experiences seizures, learn about emergency steps to take if they have a seizure.


Seizures are surges of brain activity that cause convulsions and other involuntary symptoms. They are a sign of epilepsy and can often happen after a stroke. However, seizures can also occur for people who don’t have epilepsy. Other factors that can trigger a seizure include a lack of sleep, stress, medications, and alcohol withdrawal.

If you suspect you have epilepsy or are experiencing seizures, consult a medical professional for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention methods. The sooner you act, the better off you’ll be.


Source:, Mark Gurarie

24-Year-Old Prodigy Kalani David Suffers Fatal Seizure While Surfing

24-Year-Old Prodigy Kalani David Suffers Fatal Seizure While Surfing

David had Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. He had his first seizure while skating with friends in 2016, with the episode briefly stopping his heart.

Kalani David, a rising star in the surfing and skating worlds, died in Costa Rica on Saturday after suffering a seizure while riding the waves. He was 24.

The news was first reported by The Inertia. It was seemingly confirmed by David’s younger brother, Keoni, who posted to his Instagram story: “You are the best brother I could ever ask for. I will miss you Kalani.”

Born and raised on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii, David was born with a surfboard in one hand and a skateboard in the other, and by 14 years old, he was already considered “a seasoned veteran,” as his X-Games biography put it. In 2012, he won one of the first of his many major accolades, clinching a gold medal at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Panama.

The 24-year-old also had Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a congenital heart condition where an extra electrical pathway can cause an abnormally—sometimes dangerously—rapid heartbeat. In some patients, it causes seizure which, while not always fatal, often involve a loss of consciousness, something particularly dangerous in the ocean.

David suffered his first seizure in August 2016 while skating with friends at a park in Oceanside, California. Then 18 years old, he later reported on Instagram that he “fell on my face and woke up in an ambulance.” The episode briefly stopped his heart and triggered three more seizures in the hospital. “So grateful to be alive!” David wrote.

Months later—just before Christmas—David had another seizure in Oahu, Hawaii. The episode came on in the middle of the night, and he later posted to Instagram that he was “lucky to even be alive” after seizing for roughly six hours before friends found him. He spent two days in a medically-induced coma, and had surgery performed weeks later to get an extra muscle on his heart removed, or “burned,” as he put it.

For David, giving up either of his two loves was never an option. “If it was life or death, and I had to choose skating or surfing,” he told Stab magazine in 2016, “I’d choose death.”

Tributes to the young phenom flooded in after reports of his death began to surface on Saturday. Peter King, a surf photographer and filmmaker, was one of the first to memorialize David. “I’ll always remember your stoke when we’d shoot skate n surf and how much hope you had for you future [sic],” he wrote.

In mourning David’s death, Freesurf magazine called him “indeed a child prodigy” with “literally hundreds if not thousands of trophies.” The outlet noted in a Facebook post that it had been “following his career for at least 15 years. Maybe since kindergarten?”

“Kalani was one of the most talented ever surfer/skaters on earth,” surfing legend Kelly Slater wrote on his Instagram story, “constantly pushing the limits every time he was on his feet.”


Source:, AJ McDougall

Avicanna collaborates with University of Toronto to expand its epilepsy research program

Avicanna collaborates with University of Toronto to expand its epilepsy research program

The commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company said Dr Mac Burnham’s team will explore efficacy of Avicanna’s drug candidates and its proprietary combination of cannabinoids in a pre-clinical model for seizures

Avicanna Inc (TSX:AVCN, OTCQX:AVCNF) announced that it has expanded its research collaboration in field of epilepsy through a new partnership with the University of Toronto and Dr Mac Burnham’s research team to explore the efficacy of Avicanna’s proprietary formulations in pre-clinical models for treating the disease.

The commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company said Dr Mac Burnham’s team will explore efficacy of Avicanna’s drug candidates and its proprietary combination of cannabinoids, including AVCN319302, in a pre-clinical model for seizures.

“The combination of real-world evidence and ongoing research collaborations enable us to further develop our pharmaceutical pipeline and further progress our drug candidate in the field of epilepsy,” Avicanna’s vice president of scientific and medical affairs Dr Karolina Urban said in a statement.

Avicanna noted the research collaboration will also evaluate the anti-seizure properties of rare cannabinoids in isolation, and in combination, and will be supported by the company’s current medical cannabis sales.

Dr Burnham is a professor emeritus of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, and with his more than 150 publications has contributed greatly to the advancement of anti-seizure therapies, according to the company.

Avicanna is a commercial-stage international biopharmaceutical company focused on the advancement and commercialization of evidence-based cannabinoid-based products for the global medical and pharmaceutical market segments.

The company has an established scientific platform including R&D and clinical development that has led to the commercialization of more than 30 products across various market segments.


Source:, Sean Mason

Super-fit Derbyshire mechanic, 34, just never woke up, investigation finds

Super-fit Derbyshire mechanic, 34, just never woke up, investigation finds

He went to CrossFit around five times a week

The brother of a Derbyshire man, who suffered from epilepsy, told an inquest into his death that they knew something wasn’t right when he failed to turn up for work at the family business. Lee Ben Richards, 34, was later found lying in his bed at his home near Chesterfield by his father.

Lee Richards, who lived on Beresford Close in Danesmoor, was working as a mechanic at the family business, JW Richards and Sons, but he didn’t turn up for work on Thursday, September 23, 2021. In a statement read out at the inquest at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court, Brin Richards told the hearing his brother, Ross, got a feeling something wasn’t right that morning.

“Our father John went around to his house, he let himself in using Ross’ key. John found him on his bed, and an ambulance was called and he was pronounced dead.”

Describing his brother, Brin continued: “He was fit and strong, he went to CrossFit around five times a week. He had been texting a girl he romanticly liked until after midnight [on the night before]. He told her he was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open.”

Lee Richards had been diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 16 after he had a seizure in front of his mother. Prior to that, when he was just three years old, he fell off a wall while on a family holiday in Ibiza.

Brin Richards added that doctors told them his brother had about 48 hours to live following the accident on the Spanish island but he made “a remarkable recovery”. “The last time I saw Lee was two days before [he died] on Tuesday and he seemed well and in good spirits.”

Examinations of Lee Richards’ body following his death couldn’t lead to a cause of his death, and there was no presence of alcohol or drugs in his system other than the medication he’d been prescribed to deal with his epilepsy.


Source:, Jonathan Chubb

Microneedle technology for low-cost, painless, and bloodless tattoos

Microneedle technology for low-cost, painless, and bloodless tattoos

Instead of sitting in a tattoo chair for hours enduring painful punctures, imagine getting tattooed by a skin patch containing microscopic needles. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed low-cost, painless, and bloodless tattoos that can be self-administered and have many applications, from medical alerts to tracking neutered animals to cosmetics.

We’ve miniaturized the needle so that it’s painless, but still effectively deposits tattoo ink in the skin. This could be a way not only to make medical tattoos more accessible, but also to create new opportunities for cosmetic tattoos because of the ease of administration.”

Mark Prausnitz, principal investigator on the paper

Prausnitz, Regents’ Professor and J. Erskine Love Jr. Chair in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, presented the research in the journal iScience, with former Georgia Tech postdoctoral fellow Song Li as co-author.

Tattoos are used in medicine to cover up scars, guide repeated cancer radiation treatments, or restore nipples after breast surgery. Tattoos also can be used instead of bracelets as medical alerts to communicate serious medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, or allergies.

Various cosmetic products using microneedles are already on the market -; mostly for anti-aging -; but developing microneedle technology for tattoos is new. Prausnitz, a veteran in this area, has studied microneedle patches for years to painlessly administer drugs and vaccines to the skin without the need for hypodermic needles.

“We saw this as an opportunity to leverage our work on microneedle technology to make tattoos more accessible,” Prausnitz said. “While some people are willing to accept the pain and time required for a tattoo, we thought others might prefer a tattoo that is simply pressed onto the skin and does not hurt.”

Transforming tattooing

Tattoos typically use large needles to puncture repeatedly into the skin to get a good image, a time-consuming and painful process. The Georgia Tech team has developed microneedles that are smaller than a grain of sand and are made of tattoo ink encased in a dissolvable matrix.

“Because the microneedles are made of tattoo ink, they deposit the ink in the skin very efficiently,” said Li, the lead author of the study.

In this way, the microneedles can be pressed into the skin just once and then dissolve, leaving the ink in the skin after a few minutes without bleeding.

Tattooing technique

Although most microneedle patches for pharmaceuticals or cosmetics have dozens or hundreds of microneedles arranged in a square or circle, microneedle patch tattoos imprint a design that can include letters, numbers, symbols, and images. By arranging the microneedles in a specific pattern, each microneedle acts like a pixel to create a tattoo image in any shape or pattern.

The researchers start with a mold containing microneedles in a pattern that forms an image. They fill the microneedles in the mold with tattoo ink and add a patch backing for convenient handling. The resulting patch is then applied to the skin for a few minutes, during which time the microneedles dissolve and release the tattoo ink. Tattoo inks of various colors can be incorporated into the microneedles, including black-light ink that can only be seen when illuminated with ultraviolet light.

Prausnitz’s lab has been researching microneedles for vaccine delivery for years and realized they could be equally applicable to tattoos. With support from the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, Prausnitz’s team started working on tattoos to identify spayed and neutered pets, but then realized the technology could be effective for people, too.

The tattoos were also designed with privacy in mind. The researchers even created patches sensitive to environmental factors such as light or temperature changes, where the tattoo will only appear with ultraviolet light or higher temperatures. This provides patients with privacy, revealing the tattoo only when desired.

The study showed that the tattoos could last for at least a year and are likely to be permanent, which also makes them viable cosmetic options for people who want an aesthetic tattoo without risk of infection or the pain associated with traditional tattoos. Microneedle tattoos could alternatively be loaded with temporary tattoo ink to address short-term needs in medicine and cosmetics.

Microneedle patch tattoos can also be used to encode information in the skin of animals. Rather than clipping the ear or applying an ear tag to animals to indicate sterilization status, a painless and discreet tattoo can be applied instead.

“The goal isn’t to replace all tattoos, which are often works of beauty created by tattoo artists,” Prausnitz said. “Our goal is to create new opportunities for patients, pets, and people who want a painless tattoo that can be easily administered.”


Source:, Emily Henderson, B.Sc.