According to new studies, patients with epilepsy can be cured and therefore this pathology has a chance of remission. An important recognition for which IAAE, the Italian Association against Epilepsy, is fighting, and last February 13, on the occasion of the World Epilepsy Day, sent a letter to the Social Affairs Committee of the House with the request that the healing of epilepsy be recognized.
It is an important battle, according to the Association, also considering the many prejudices, which the epileptic patients face. We talk about this topic with Professor Alberto Albanese, Head of Neurology at Humanitas.
Stigma against epilepsy
Epilepsy is often confused with mental retardation and patients suffering from it are discriminated against. “This social perception in medicine is called stigma. There are diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis that are characterized by a strong stigma. In many cases of mental retardation there may be epilepsy, but the reverse is not true, i.e. frequently epilepsy is associated with mental retardation, but not necessarily mental retardation is associated with epilepsies. This connection is made simply because when there is a mental retardation the brain develops imperfectly, which can give rise to epileptic seizures, so in the perceived people there is a stigma of epilepsy,” explains Prof. Albanese.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is one of the most frequent neurological symptoms, with 65 million cases worldwide, of which five hundred thousand in Italy. The onset usually occurs in early childhood or adulthood and the disease is characterized by the appearance of paroxysmal electrical activity in the brain nervous system. The most striking manifestation is the epileptic seizure, which can manifest itself with a temporary absence of the patient, who appears lost in emptiness, or even with violent convulsive shocks. At least two epileptic seizures must be documented to establish the diagnosis of epilepsy as a disease.
When does one heal?
Today, a person who has not been the victim of epileptic seizures for at least ten years is considered cured. However, relapses can occur in patients who have already been considered healed. Therefore, care should be taken before discontinuing antiepileptic therapies and it is advisable for specialists to certify the healing.
Professor Albanese explains: “There are so many types and so many forms of epilepsy. It is a curable disease that can heal. In general, a standard threshold of ten years without seizures can be considered for holding a patient cured. However, the ideal remains to consider each specific case in order to assess whether or not it is advisable to consider reducing or discontinuing antiepileptic therapy.