Epilepsy is a neurological condition also known as a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy. Seizures happen when clusters of nerve cells in the brain signal abnormally, which may briefly alter a person’s consciousness, movements or actions.
Seizures in epilepsy may be a result of a brain injury or a family history, but most of the time the cause is unknown. Worldwide, Epilepsy affects 65 million men women and children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, epilepsy affects 2.2 million Americans.
Epilepsy medications and other treatments do help many people of all ages who live with epilepsy. However, more than a million people continue to have seizures that can severely limit their achievements, employment prospects and participation in all of life’s experiences. It strikes most often among the very young and the very old, yet anyone can develop epilepsy at any age. In the United States, it affects more than 300,000 children under the age of 15–more than 90,000 of whom have seizures that cannot be properly treated.
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the U.S. following migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Its prevalence is greater than autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease combined. Despite how common it is and major advances in diagnosis and treatment, epilepsy is among the least understood of major chronic medical conditions, even though one in three adults knows someone with the disorder.