If you’re driving past downtown Dallas on Friday, you might notice several buildings all lit up in purple.
That’s because it’s National Epilepsy Awareness Month.
It's all to show support for the more than 3 million people in this country who live with this life-altering condition.
It's also a signal to great things researchers are doing to help change lives.
Data shows 1 in 26 people will experience epilepsy in their lifetime. It's the fourth most common neurologic disease and doctors say it's about as common as type one diabetes.
“There are 3.4 million people in United States living with epilepsy and people don’t know that because they’re such a stigma around epilepsy and there’s so much fear around seizures,” said Rebecca Moreau, assistant director of Epilepsy Foundation Texas. "It's always so great to see everybody come together and know that turning up purple really does light up the lives of our families that live in Dallas."
But there is something to really celebrate this month. There is a lot of groundbreaking epilepsy research happening right now.
The latest news from around North Texas.
One of the latest developments comes out of Cook Children's in Fort Worth.
Their team helped one North Texas child with a severe and rare form of epilepsy.
Thanks to a clinical trial of the drug fenfluramine, that child is now three years seizure free.
The trial showed the drug reduced seizures on average by about 70 percent. Because of this research, it just received FDA approval over the summer.
Dr. Jeremy Slater, long-time neurologist and Chief Medical Officer for Stratus, says research and support for these families is critical.
“The fact that we can diagnose and treat and bring the majority of the seizures under control -- in many cases making people completely seizure free so they can live a normal lives -- is something that isn’t known and recognized by a lot of people,” he said.
Dr. Slater has practiced neurology for almost 30 years and ran the epilepsy program at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston for 13 years.
He explained why the condition is frightening for everyone, no matter what your experience level in understanding seizures.
“Years after I was an epilepsy expert and my brother was a family practice doctor, his son had his first generalized convulsion at fisherman‘s wharf in San Francisco," he recalled. "At that point I had 20 plus years experience, and I’m watching my nephew have a seizure -- my brother and I were terrified. Because when it’s your own family member, no matter how much experience you have, it goes right out the window.”
While the skyline is lit up and supporters are wearing purple, there’s more you can do this month.
You can learn how to recognize, react and provide first aid to a person having a seizure by getting certified in seizure recognition and first aid, much like you would getting certified in CPR.
The Epilepsy Foundation's goal this month is to get 2,020 people certified in seizure recognition and first aid.
There are free, virtual trainings happening all month. Times and links are listed below:
- November 10, 2020, at 6 p.m.
- November 17, 2020, at 2:30 p.m.
- November 21, 2020, at 1 p.m.
- November 25, 2020, at 12 p.m.
Click here for more information on virtual events happening throughout the month of November.