Purple Day of Epilepsy

Purple Day is the international day of Epilepsy Awareness. It is observed on 26th March of every year. Purple Day is a grassroots initiative dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy worldwide. It aims at creating awareness among the masses about epilepsy and bust the myths and stigma associated with it. The purpose of Purple Day is to educate the people who are not familiar with epilepsy, and to let those who suffer from this condition realize that they are not alone.

History of Purple Day

This concept was instituted by a 9 year old girl, Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada in 2008. Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia joined hands with her in this initiative. The first Purple Day event was held on 26th March 2008. At present we call it as the Purple Day for Epilepsy Campaign.

In 2009, Anita Kaufmann Foundation of New York and Nova Scotia based Epilepsy Association allied to launch Purple Day internationally. Their object was to involve organizations, schools, colleges and eminent personalities. The Purple Day campaign received Royal Assent in March 2012 and is now an official Canadian awareness day.

Canada is the only country in the world whose government officially recognizes March 26th as Purple Day through the Purple Day Act implemented on June 28, 2012.

Today as many as 100 countries globally celebrate this day.

How to celebrate this day?

There are several ways by which you can honour this day.

  • Easiest way is to wear purple clothes and tell your friends why you are wearing this colour on that particular day.
  • You can help the local bodies in organizing events.
  • Help the NGOs, launch campaigns, spread epilepsy awareness as much as you can.
  • You may also apply to the Anita Kaufmann Foundation and become a Purple Day ambassador

Apart from these things, you can always make people realize that Epilepsy awareness is not just a one day affair. People can make small contributions (not necessarily financial) throughout the year.

What is Epilepsy?

You may have a vague idea about this disease. Let’s have a clear understanding of what this thing really is.

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases in the world. WHO states that there are about 50 million people worldwide who suffer from epilepsy. It is a neurological disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures, periods of unusual behavior, abnormal sensations or sometimes loss of consciousness. Epilepsy is self-diagnosable. The severity and duration of seizures can vary from the briefest lapse of attention to severe convulsions.

“It is characterized by recurrent seizures, which are brief episodes of involuntary movement that may involve a part of the body (partial) or the entire body (generalized) and are sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function.

Seizure episodes are a result of excessive electrical discharges in a group of brain cells. Different parts of the brain can be the site of such discharges. Seizures can vary from the briefest lapses of attention or muscle jerks to severe and prolonged convulsions. Seizures can also vary in frequency, from less than one per year to several per day.”

World Health Organization (WHO)

Symptoms

  • Stiffness of muscles
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of arms and legs, or sometimes whole body
  • Blank staring
  • Unresponsiveness

There are 2 types of seizures.

  • Simple Partial seizures  – The person remains conscious but there can be dizziness, disturbance in sensations of sight, smell, taste, hear or touch and jerking of limbs.
  • Complex partial seizures – The person becomes unconscious. Other symptoms are blank gazing, unresponsiveness and performing repetitive movements.
  • Generalized seizures – Includes Absence seizures, Tonic seizures, Atonic seizures, Clonic seizures, Myoclonic seizures, Tonic-clonic seizures.

Causes

The causes are still unknown. However some reasons have been identified.

  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke
  • Severe head injury
  • Brain infections
  • Lack of oxygen during birth
  • Genetic influence
  • Developmental disorders

Do You Know?

As one of the original supporters of the day, Anita Kauffman initiated the setting of a Guinness World Record for the largest ever epilepsy training session in 2017. This event was held at Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota, in alignment with Purple Day Walk.

Prevention

It is not evident that this condition can be prevented. But some studies have shown that about 25% cases can be prevented.

  • Sufficient pre-natal care can prevent head injury during birth
  • Lower the chances of stroke and heart disease – exercise, adopt a healthy lifestyle, avoid tobacco and alcohol
  • Get vaccinations. Jabs can protect you from infections that may sometimes lead to epilepsy
  • Stay healthy during pregnancy
  • Avoid head injuries

Early and timely detection can cure epilepsy.

Myths

Let us go through some myths that are associated with this condition

  • Persons with epilepsy are mentally unstable
  • They are not smart as other people
  • Epilepsy is contagious
  • It cannot be treated
  • Such persons cannot lead a normal life

These are not true. Persons with epilepsy can absolutely have a normal life, are as smart as their peers and are NOT MENTALLY UNSTABLE. This condition is completely non-contagious. In about two-thirds of patients treated with anti-seizure medication, epilepsy no longer occurs. Patients who are unresponsive to medications receive surgery.

Conlusion – Let us take initiations from our end by doing whatever we can. Let us not discriminate the persons who are going through this condition. Our small contributions can make a huge difference to the lives of people who are living with epilepsy.