When epilepsy strikes

17th November 2006 at 00:00
A teacher's worst nightmare. A pupil has a seizure in class and you are in charge. What do you do?

A specialised training scheme in North Lanarkshire has been making sure staff and pupils can cope if someone suffers an epileptic fit.

Helen MacDonald, a Quarriersepilepsy fieldworker, has been visiting schools to raise awareness of the neurological condition which affects some 39,000 people, including 4,500 under-18s, in Scotland. There are around 3,500 new diagnoses each year in the UK and 70 per cent of those can avoid further seizures with treatment.

Most seizures fall into one of 40 categories. In an absence seizure, a sufferer will not fall down and their eyes may look glazed or roll - meaning it can go unnoticed.

Not all seizures need hospital treatment, although the first time someone suffers one, call an ambulance. Sometimes the person only needs a rest and can return to lessons, says Ms MacDonald: "Our objective is for people to lead a normal life."

With pupils, the emphasis is on awareness, and with teachers, it is on first aid. Miss MacDonald uses videos, showing people having seizures, to demonstrate the most common four types likely to be encountered. A model and pictures of the human brain help show how specific parts affect the body.

St Aidan's High in Wishaw is one of 22 schools that has benefited from Quarrier's fieldwork service in the North Lanarkshire area which has trained 3,795 pupils and staff. The social care charity plans to deliver training to a further six schools this year and has funding to continue work in the area for another two years.

* Email: epilepsyfieldwork.lanarkshire@quarriers.org.uk

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