Did you know that across the U.S., 470,000 children and teens have been diagnosed with epilepsy? Yet only 45% of pediatric patients have a seizure action plan. Having a plan in place can save lives, which is why February 13-20, 2023, has been recognized as Seizure Action Plan Week. This recognition week is an opportunity to bring attention to the importance of having a seizure action plan and spread awareness within communities about how to react if anyone around you has a seizure.
What is a seizure action plan and why is it important?
A seizure action plan (SAP) provides a patient-specific plan on how to manage a seizure. Specifically, it includes essential information for others on what others should do. This is very important for pediatric patients who may find themselves experiencing a seizure around adults who are unfamiliar with the best steps to take, such as what to do during a seizure, when “watchful waiting” is appropriate, when to intervene with at-home rescue medications and when to call 911 or go to the hospital.
Who needs a seizure action plan?
A SAP is beneficial for anyone of any age to have but is especially helpful for anyone with new-onset epilepsy and those with ongoing frequent seizures (who had more than one seizure in the previous year.) Additionally, a SAP can help seizure-free patients who have risk factors for breakthrough seizures. (Basically, anyone at risk of a seizure needs a plan!)
How do I create a seizure action plan?
There isn’t a seizure action plan that fits everyone. In fact, these plans should differ based on the individual, their epilepsy type, age and more. These plans should be created with multiple people at the table: the patient (depending on their age), a caregiver and a healthcare provider. However, all plans will include information such as:
- The patient’s name
- Information on the seizure (what a baseline seizure might look like, triggers, how long it might last)
- Any allergies that are important to note
- What to do during a seizure to help the patient
- When to administer rescue medications if prescribed to do so
- What might trigger the need to call for emergency help
These plans provide comfort for more than just the caregivers – school staff, coworkers, babysitters and others will appreciate the preparedness and instructions on how to help.
Interested in making your plan or learning more about the information you should know if you are ever around someone during a seizure? Visit SeizureActionPlans.org and ask your healthcare provider for the best ways to get started. Check out our Epilepsy Support site for an example of a seizure action plan and start the conversation today.
About the Author
Caitlin Bernard-Vincent, MSW, LCSW is Valley Children’s Epilepsy Support Program Manager. She has been working within the field of Neurology for the past 10 years, where she has gained firsthand knowledge of the impact epilepsy has on the entire family. Caitlin’s passion includes educating others in order to break down the stigmas surrounding epilepsy one person at a time. As a current board member for Epilepsy Alliance America, she is part of a team working to increase education in schools on the impact epilepsy has on mental health. “The more we learn, the more we have the capacity to try to understand others. People are naturally afraid of what they do not know or understand. Our Epilepsy Program has been a place for families to come seek encouragement and a place to feel understood and heard. We provide a safe place for everyone to learn, grow and gain support. Do not hesitate to reach out; no one with epilepsy should feel alone. We are here to travel this journey alongside you.” Learn more about epilepsy support resources from Valley Children’s >>