Until comparatively recently, the emphasis of neurologists and paediatricians has been on obtaining complete control of epilepsy. The child or person’s own feelings have not been taken into sufficient account, nor has the effect of epilepsy on aspects of their life such as choice of career, employment, social and leisure activities, and family life. The stigma which is associated with epilepsy, and the relatively poor medical understanding and management of epilepsy has contributed to patients with epilepsy experiencing a poor quality of life. This is now changing. Favourable factors are:

• an increased understanding about how epilepsy is caused;

• an increased medical awareness of the condition at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate medical training;

• the development of more effective and safer drugs, and of surgical treatments leading to improved control of seizures;

• the development of clinics and facilities, both locally in general hospitals and nationally in major specialist centres;

• the appointment of specialist nurses in epilepsy whose role is to support and counsel patients of any age, and their families; and

• an expansion of local and national voluntary associations to provide advice and information to all patients and professionals who are involved with epilepsy.

The introduction of epilepsy clinics and specialist nurses in epilepsy are, in our view, as (if not more) important than the discovery of new anti-epileptic drugs in improving the quality of life of patients who have epilepsy.


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