Epilepsy or Seizure Disorder
Data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health cites a lifetime prevalence of epilepsy in children from birth to age 17 as 10.2/1000 or about 1 percent and a prevalence of current epilepsy in this same age group at 6.3/1000 or about 0.6%. Epilepsy is a neurological condition that from time to time produces brief disturbances in the normal electrical functions of the brain. When someone has epilepsy, this normal pattern may be interrupted by intermittent bursts of electrical energy that are much more intense than usual. The electrical burst may affect a person's consciousness, bodily movements, or sensations for a few seconds to minutes. These physical changes are called seizure activity.
The primary treatment for seizure disorders is oral anticonvulsant medication. For the majority of students with epilepsy, medication controls the seizure activity. Other treatments for seizures include vagal nerve stimulators, ketogenic diet, and surgery. When convulsive seizure activity is prolonged, it is called status epilepticus. Students may suffer brain damage or die if seizure activity is prolonged and not interrupted. Prolonged seizure activity may be interrupted by administration of emergency medication. After emergency medication administration, emergency medical services or 911 may need to be called, and the student should be monitored for seizure activity and respiratory depression.
School personnel need to know how to recognize seizures and how to respond to a seizure emergency. School nurses can develop an emergency action plan, train school personnel in first aid, and provide assistance in the administration of daily and emergency medications for students with seizure disorder.