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Epilepsy awareness

Jack Brockley | May 03, 2019

Epilepsy experts and Terni Kiwanis Club members.

Though it is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world, epilepsy remains hidden from society. Yet several members of the Kiwanis Club of Terni, Italy, are very familiar with it. And they’re make sure other people understand epilepsy too.

When the Kiwanis Italy-San Marino District recommended that clubs consider activities to increase awareness about the disorders, Terni Kiwanians were quick to respond.

“Many of our members are aware and sensitive to epilepsy,” says club Secretary Luciano Binnella. “Among our members, we have physicians and teachers, including myself, who throughout our career have encountered patients and students who experienced episodes of epilepsy.”

From such firsthand experience, an interest was born within the club to teach their community about epilepsy.

According to the World Health Organization, “Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disease of the brain that affects people of all ages.” More than 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy. About 75 percent of those in low- and middle-income countries do not get treatment. And many — along with their families — must deal with stigma and discrimination.

On World Epilepsy Day 2019 this past February, Terni Kiwanians teamed with the Umbria Region School Council and physical education instructors to present a program based on guidelines provided by the Italian Association against Epilepsy. Adopting the theme #epilepsyNONMIfaipaura (Epilepsy, You Don’t Scare Me), they invited students and adults from all area schools. Among the 120 attendees were students, 16 to 18 years old, who were selected based on their interests in epilepsy and their plans to seek medical degrees.

Speakers, who included neurologists and a work-safety expert, talked about regulations related to driving and use of machinery on jobsites, medications and developing a culture of safety within schools for children who have epilepsy.

“The students showed a true and deep interest in the topic,” club President Massimo Sabatini reports. “They asked specific questions about the neurophysiology and pathology of neural transmissions and the transmission ‘channel.” Some questions were about the connection between seizure and hysterical attacks and how to intervene and provide help during a seizure episode.”

The forum received wide publicity through social media, newspapers and a regional televised newscast.

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