International Epilepsy Day
American Epilepsy Society Calls for More Epilepsy Research Funding 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy
Hartford, Conn. February 9, 2015 – The American Epilepsy Society (AES)the U.S. branch of the International League Against Epilepsy, joins epilepsy professionals around the globe in recognizing International Epilepsy Day and calling for more investment in epilepsy research. The need for more research was underscored by the World Health Organization in a January 29, 2015 draft resolution outlining the global burden of epilepsy and the need for more access to treatment and more investment in research worldwide.
In the U.S., 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime adding more than 200,000 new epilepsy cases annually to the 3 million already living with the condition. Yet, despite having an advanced medical system and access to treatments, 1 million Americans with epilepsy still experience on-going seizures.
No current therapies exist to reduce development of epilepsy in those at risk due to brain injuries from trauma, stroke or other causes. Similarly, no therapies exist to prevent Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) nor to treat the cognitive co-morbidities that negatively impact the quality of life of more than 1/3 of Americans with epilepsy. Additional research efforts are desperately needed to discover new treatment options and to better understand the causes of the condition.
Epilepsy is the second leading cause of death from a neurological condition and affects more people in the U.S. than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's combined, yet receives fewer federal dollars per patient than each of these. In fact, National Institute of Health (NIH) funding of epilepsy research has increased by only 5% since 2008. In comparison, NIH funding for autism has increased by 44% and for Alzheimer’s disease by 28%i .
“The global community of epilepsy researchers continues to grow and new discoveries are made, yet additional funding is needed to speed delivery of significant breakthroughs,” said Amy Brooks-Kayal, M.D. president American Epilepsy Society. “The burden of epilepsy adversely impacts the quality of life for millions who live with this condition. For them, it is imperative to advance our understanding and to make epilepsy research a global priority.”
Epilepsy is a spectrum of more than 25 seizure syndromes—sometimes called the epilepsies. The disorder is characterized by unpredictable seizures in which the brain produces sudden bursts of electrical energy that can interfere with a person’s consciousness, movements and sensations. Seizures differ widely in type, cause, severity, and treatment. In addition, people with epilepsy often experience quality of life issues, including but not limited to impaired memory and cognitive functions, difficulty in social interactions and achieving gainful employment, and driving restrictions.