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Purple Day of Epilepsy: A Global Initiative
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Purple Day of Epilepsy: A Global Initiative

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Highlights:
  • Epilepsy is a condition leading to seizures that begin in the brain, that affect people of all ages and ethnic groups
  • Almost 50 million people across the globe have epilepsy
  • Purple Day is a global initiative to increase public awareness epilepsy

Purple day of epilepsy, observed on 26th March supports the cause of epilepsy, host and organize awareness events. This is a global initiative to increase public awareness of a common neurological disorder - epilepsy.

The idea of the purple day was started in 2008 by young Cassidy Megan (9 years) who was motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy. In 2009, Anita Kaufmann Foundation, New York and the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia came together to launch Purple Day officially. The idea was to get people to talk, discuss and share their stories and struggles. There are a number of myths about epilepsy and often people with epilepsy are stigmatized.

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Purple day is a platform that helps diffuse these myths and remove the stigma. Epilepsy is a condition like any other disease and there is no reason a person with epilepsy should be stigmatized or discriminated.

Purple day encourages all people with epilepsy to come together and share their experiences. It is a day to create public awareness and learn from each other's experiences. Sharing experiences among patients enables them to avoid similar pitfalls which they might face in the future. It is also a shared platform for discussing various issues faced by patients and finding solutions. Purple day involves all stakeholders from patients, families to clinicians and support groups.
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The purple ribbon was chosen as it represents the color of the lavender flower. The lavender flower is associated with solitude and signifies the loneliness and isolation faced by people with epilepsy.

The purple day in India is especially important as many superstitions and myths about epilepsy prevail. In several remote rural areas, seizures are believed to be the expression of demons which possess people. People with epilepsy are often taken to exorcists who supposedly exorcise the disease causing demon.

The purple day in India is synonymous with public education about epilepsy. The goals include:
  • public education
  • dispelling myths
  • enabling employment
  • enabling marriages among people with epilepsy
  • fostering hope
Epilepsy can affect anybody and there has to be public awareness and sensitization. People who have epileptic seizures need not be feared or stigmatized. Purple day is a platform to advocate for equal rights of people with epilepsy. As societies progress, we need to empathize and support people with a range of disorders lead a life of meaning and hope.

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition leading to seizures that begin in the brain. Epilepsy affects people of all ages and ethnic groups. It can be triggered by inherited genes or other structural changes in the brain. Conditions like brain tumors, meningitis or stroke can trigger epileptic seizures. However, in more than 50% of the cases, the cause is unknown.

Seizures can often come on without any warning signals. While most seizures involve convulsions or jerking, many seizures involve just a vacant stare, gazing or confusion. Some seizures also occur during sleep. Usually people get diagnosed after one or more seizures. Epilepsy is diagnosed clinically and with tools like EEG, CT and MRI scans. Treatment includes anticonvulsant medications like carbamazepine, sodium valproate, clobazam, gabapentin and more.

Source: Medindia

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