Each year, March 26th, marks Epilepsy Awareness Day. Also known as Purple Day, this serves as an excellent time for everyone to learn a bit more about epilepsy. Of course, since we’re spreading awareness, today is also a perfect time to talk about the potential increased drowning risks that epileptics may face.

Understanding Epilepsy

Let’s start with a brief overview about epilepsy. In short, this is a neurological disorder often characterized by recurring and unpredictable seizures. These seizures, varying in severity and duration, affect approximately 65 million people worldwide.

Of course, epilepsy is actually a spectrum disorder. In a nutshell, this means one person’s experience will vary from another. This means one person may suffer frequent seizures while another epileptic can experience long periods of remission. Management of the disorder typically involves medications, lifestyle adjustments, and sometimes even surgical interventions.

History of Epilepsy Awareness Day

Epilepsy Awareness Day, also known as Purple Day, started in 2008 through the efforts of Cassidy Megan, a young girl from Canada. Her campaign aimed to raise awareness about epilepsy and reduce stigma. Inspired by her own struggles with epilepsy and the lack of public understanding surrounding the condition, Cassidy sought to spark conversations and dispel myths surrounding epilepsy.

On March 26th, Epilepsy Awareness Day, people worldwide wear purple, the color symbolizing… you guessed it, epilepsy awareness. The day is dedicated to engaging in discussions and activities to promote understanding and support for those affected by epilepsy. That’s something we’re hoping to do with today’s blog.

To learn more about Epilepsy Awareness Day / Purple Day, and Cassidy, read this link.

Do Epileptics Suffer from a Greater Risk of Drowning?

Now, understandably, it stands to reason that a person living with epilepsy might be at greater risk of drowning danger. Unfortunately, in many circumstances, this seems to be true. In fact, according to a recent population-based case series, people with epilepsy drown at a rate nearly ten times greater than the general population.

Purple Day is March 26th

Because seizures can occur unexpectedly, extra precautions should be taken. According to a population-based case study series, drowning is a significant concern for individuals with epilepsy, as seizures in water can lead to loss of consciousness and uncontrolled movements, increasing the risk of submersion and drowning.

Strategies for Water Safety

Education and Awareness

One of the main points of events like Epilepsy Awareness Day is to spread the word to the world. Sad as it may be, many people simply don’t know how to behave when someone is having a seizure. This lack of understanding can lead to dangerous or even fatal consequences in the water.

For this reason, events like Epilepsy Awareness Day, or Purple Day, help in raising awareness about drowning risks for individuals with epilepsy. This is useful for everyone, from lifeguards to caregivers to the general public. A bit of knowledge can improve safety protocols and emergency responses.

Use the Buddy System

Individuals with epilepsy should never swim alone. This is a great use of the buddy system. Having an extra person watch your back is helpful for any swimmer… but it can be a game-changer for someone living with epilepsy.

Additionally, wearing a United States Coast Guard approved life jacket can provide an added layer of safety and support in case of a seizure. Supervision by someone knowledgeable about epilepsy and wearing appropriate flotation devices can enhance safety.

Using Life Jackets for Toddlers

Seizure Management Plans

Develop plans tailored to water environments to guide responses in case of a seizure, including safe removal from water and medical assistance. To learn more about developing a seizure management plan, check with the Epilepsy Foundation.

Communication and Disclosure: Encourage open communication about epilepsy in group settings to ensure appropriate support and accommodations. Remember that people with epilepsy will be in a much better position if their companions are aware of the situation.

Avoiding High-Risk Activities: Individuals with epilepsy should avoid high-risk activities such as diving or swimming alone in open water. Safer alternatives like supervised swimming or water therapy programs can provide enjoyment while minimizing risks.

Water safety is paramount for individuals with epilepsy due to the heightened risk of drowning during seizures. By implementing proactive strategies and fostering awareness and understanding, we can create a safer environment for everyone to enjoy water activities. Remember, prioritizing safety is crucial, on Epilepsy Awareness Day and beyond.