March 26 each year is Purple Day, a global initiative dedicated to raising awareness of what it’s like to live with epilepsy.
Around 250,000 Australians are currently diagnosed with epilepsy, and an estimated 800,000 Australians – around 3.5% of the population – will develop epilepsy during their lifetime. Around the world, 65 million people have epilepsy at any given time.
Epilepsy can start at any age, although it is more likely to be diagnosed in childhood or senior years. Children represent approximately 40% of the population with epilepsy.
Each year for Purple Day, Epilepsy Action Australia works hard to bring epilepsy out of the shadows and educate the community about the impact that this neurological disorder can have on individuals and families.
This year we are especially focused on highlighting the life-saving benefits of learning seizure first aid.
Do you know what to do if someone has a seizure?
Seizures can be unpredictable and, if you haven’t witnessed one before, can be frightening to watch. But it’s vitally important to move past your own fear and do what you can to help the person having the seizure.
Seizures generally run their own course, but there are a few key steps that can really help.
Of utmost importance is keeping the person safe, particularly protecting their head from injury by removing anything that could hurt them. Never put anything in their mouth or try to restrain them in any way.
If you can time the seizure on your watch or your phone, that can be very helpful information to give to the person when they come out of the seizure, or to give to paramedics if an ambulance is required.
Seizure First Aid – Key Steps
- Stay with the person
- Keep them safe, removing anything that could hurt them
- Don’t try to restrain them
- Don’t put anything in their mouth
- Roll them onto their side once jerking/shaking subsides
- Reassure them until they have recovered
- Call an ambulance if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes
What is a seizure?
A seizure occurs when the usual pattern of electrical impulses in the brain is disrupted. Seizures can affect different people in different ways, but will generally cause changes in sensation and feeling, awareness and consciousness, behaviour and/or movement. Some seizures can be over in a matter of seconds whereas others may last many minutes however most seizures last less than two minutes.
If a seizure lasts longer than five minutes, it is time to call an ambulance.
There are many different types of epilepsy and people’s experiences differ greatly. Some types of epilepsy last for a limited time and the person eventually stops having seizures. For others, epilepsy is a life-long condition. The good news is that more than two thirds of people with epilepsy will become seizure free with medication.
To help people understand the simple steps to take when someone has a seizure, Epilepsy Action has developed a series of animated videos for both adults and children. I’d like to encourage everyone to take a few minutes out of their day to watch these videos and see just how simple it can be to help someone who is having a seizure.
Seizure First Aid for Children (run time 3mins)
Seizure First Aid for Adults (run time 4mins)
The Adult Seizure First Aid video is also available in Arabic and Chinese.
Get Involved in Purple Day this March
Epilepsy Action would love the Bub Hub’s readers to get involved in Purple Day this year to raise funds and awareness. You could:
- Host your own fundraising event with a purple twist – a morning tea, a BBQ, a bake sale, a run, whatever you can think of! The only limit is your imagination. Visit epilepsy.org.au/fundraising-for-purple-day
- Get your school involved – hold a free dress day, sports day, sausage sizzle, or deliver Epilepsy Awareness presentations for K-2 or 3-6 in class. Visit epilepsy.org.au/purple-day-for-schools
- Buy our merchandise to show support and start conversations including t-shirts, hats, keyrings, pens and wristbands. Visit epilepsy.org.au/get-involved/buy-merchandise
- Make a donation online or phone 1300 37 45 37, to help support what we do. Visit epilepsy.org.au/donation/make-a-donation
The Bub Hub is proud to support Epilepsy Action
Funds raised by Epilepsy Action for Purple Day will go towards life-changing programs and services which are delivered to people with epilepsy right across the country.