The American Epilepsy Outreach Foundation Partners with Veterans of Modern Warfare
Erin Leyden created this Foundation in 2008, after her son Emmett (who is now 5) started having seizures, hundreds a day. We may never know why Emmett’s seizures started and that’s because he is one of the 70% of people suffering from seizures that will never have a known cause. Some of the remaining 30% have their seizures occur due to brain injury.
Although our Foundation was created because of a child with epilepsy, we know that our focus must be broader and include all people with seizure disorders, which is why we are partnering with the Veterans of Modern Warfare. It is our duty to educate veterans and caretakers about epilepsy and seizures.
“Anyone who has suffered a brain injury is at risk (of a seizure). However, different kinds of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are associated with different risks. In people with moderate or severe injury, where there has been bleeding into the brain or where brain tissue has died, the risk (of a seizure) may be as high as 1 out of 2 people with TBI.” 1
“The incidence of epilepsy among soldiers who have experienced head trauma in the Iraq War is expected to increase, with no clearly effective strategy available to treat or prevent it, according to Daniel H. Lowenstein, MD. Although traumatic brain injury (TBI)-induced epilepsy has been a well-documented phenomenon after combat, the rate is expected to be particularly high in veterans of the Iraq conflict due to the nature of the weaponry, with explosive devices being a key source of injury.”2
Fifty percent of U.S. Vietnam War veterans with penetrating brain injuries developed epilepsy within one to 15 years post-trauma. The incidence of post-traumatic epilepsy is expected to increase among Iraq War veterans since they are exposed to more harmful explosives”.3
From the above sources we know that brain injury is one possible cause of seizures and we acknowledge that our soldiers are now at a very high risk of TBI. With the possibility that 1 of 2 soldiers may suffer from seizures we need to offer support to these men, women and their families. The correlation between veterans, TBI and seizures urges the American Epilepsy Outreach to join forces with the Veterans of Modern Warfare to provide the support our returning troops deserve.
It is the mission of Epilepsy Outreach to raise awareness and educate the public about epilepsy, seizures, and first aid. It is our desire to offer support to those with epilepsy, their families and their caregivers. With ever-increasing numbers of veterans suffering from these injuries, it is imperative that we be proactive so that families and caregivers will be knowledgeable and prepared about caring for a loved one during a seizure, no matter the cause. We will never comprehend what a soldier faces during war but if we can provide support and answers to a family facing seizures it would be a small token of the gratitude we owe to them.
It is the hope of the American Epilepsy Outreach Foundation that by partnering with Veterans of Modern Warfare in the future our alliance may be strong enough to force more research and resources on this connection.
(2) http://www.neurologyreviews.com/08nov/TBIEPILEPSY.html vol. 16, no. 11, November 2008The American Epilepsy Outreach Foundation is registered in Illinois as a non-profit corporation and is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.