The Challenges of Life with Epilepsy

The Challenges of Life with Epilepsy

While epilepsy is frequently associated with physical seizures, the condition is, in fact, a brain disorder that involves abnormal bursts of electrical activity. Those bursts can and do trigger seizures, but the severity and frequency will vary from individual to individual.

That means that epilepsy will manifest differently depending on the circumstances. Many patients are able to lead relatively unencumbered lives, with seizures occurring at a rate of less than one per year. Others experience multiple seizures every day, which can make it far more difficult to hold a job or plan regular activities. Because the number and frequency of seizures can vary greatly from person to person, and those with the disorder can seem perfectly fine between episodes, epilepsy is often considered an “invisible disability.”

Unfortunately, the unpredictable nature of epilepsy can also make it difficult to diagnose, even in instances in which a seizure has already occurred. A seizure can often be attributed to a temporary illness like a fever or an infection, and might not correspond with any underlying medical issues.

That’s why anyone experiencing such symptoms should try to pay a visit to an epilepsy specialist who will be able to make a positive (or negative) diagnosis. A good neurologist will supplement a physical examination with blood tests, MRI and CT scans, and electroencephalogram (EEG) results. That information can be used to paint a better picture of a patient’s brain and uncover a structural issue that could be causing epileptic symptoms.

In that regard, it is worth noting that people with epilepsy may experience different symptoms depending on the location of the electrical activity within the brain. A focal onset seizure will originate in one specific group of cells, while a general onset seizure will affect cells on both sides of the brain simultaneously.

Both types of seizures can have motor and non-motor symptoms. For a general onset seizure, the motor symptoms can include muscle tics, spasms, and jerking motions, while the muscles themselves can become more rigid or go limp. Non-motor symptoms, on the other hand, are defined by an absence of motion. Someone experiencing an absence seizure will usually stop moving or appear to stare off into space.

Someone in the midst of a focal onset seizure can exhibit repeated, automatic motions like clapping in addition to the other motor symptoms. Their non-motor symptoms can include an emotional change, as well as hot or cold sensations and behaviour arrest. There can also be some cognitive impairment, so they may not even be aware that the seizure as it is happening.

Both general and focal onset seizures can be treated with medication, although a doctor may recommend other treatment options – including surgery and specialized medical devices – if that medication proves not to be effective. In some cases, making dietary changes can lessen the frequency and severity of epileptic symptoms.

A long-term disability claim is also worth considering if epilepsy becomes disruptive in the workplace. Epilepsy is far more common than many people realize. The Government of Canada estimates that there are now roughly 300,000 Canadians (including 250,000 adults of working age) living with the condition. That number has increased in recent years as our diagnostic capabilities have improved. It’s perfectly reasonable to take time off to focus on your health, so don’t be afraid to reach out to Share Lawyers to make sure you get the benefits you deserve!

Has your long-term disability claim been denied? Contact Share Lawyers and put our experience to work for you. We have recently settled cases against Manulife, Fenchurch, La Capitale, Equitable Life, Cigna, Sun Life, and many more. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless we win your case. Find out if you have a disability case.