Purple Day for Epilepsy

The Purple Day for Epilepsy takes place on March 26th and is an event designed to raise awareness of epilepsy and people are encouraged to wear a purple-coloured item of clothing on March 26. Purple and lavender are often associated with epilepsy, as for example in the wearing of a lavender ribbon.

The word epilepsy is derived from Ancient Greek ἐπιλαμβάνειν, meaning “to seize, possess, or afflict” and Epilepsy refers to a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures which can vary from brief and nearly undetectable periods to long periods of vigorous shaking. These episodes can result in physical injuries, including occasionally broken bones. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur and, as a rule, have no immediate underlying cause.  Isolated seizures that are provoked by a specific cause such as poisoning are not deemed to represent epilepsy.

The cause of most cases of epilepsy is unknown. Some cases occur as the result of brain injury, stroke, brain tumors, infections of the brain, and birth defects through a process known as epileptogenesis. Known genetic mutations are directly linked to a small proportion of cases. Epileptic seizures are the result of excessive and abnormal neuronal activity in the cortex of the brain. The diagnosis involves ruling out other conditions that might cause similar symptoms, such as fainting, and determining if another cause of seizures is present, such as alcohol withdrawal or electrolyte problems. This may be partly done by imaging the brain and performing blood tests. Epilepsy can often be confirmed with an electroencephalogram (EEG), but a normal test does not rule out the condition. Epilepsy that occurs as a result of other issues may be preventable. Seizures are controllable with medication in about 70% of cases. Inexpensive options are often available. surgery, neurostimulation or dietary changes may also be considered. In many areas of the world, those with epilepsy either have restrictions placed on their ability to drive or are not permitted to drive until they are free of seizures for a specific length of time. However Not all cases of epilepsy are lifelong, and many people improve to the point that treatment is no longer needed.

PURPLE DAY was founded in 2008 by Cassidy Megan an inspirational epileptic girl from Nova Scotia, Canada, who was motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy and wanted to create an event to raise epilepsy awareness worldwide, and get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone.It is officially recognized by law as Purple Day for epilepsy awareness in Canada.The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia came on board in 2008 to help develop Cassidy’s idea, which is now known as the Purple Day for Epilepsy campaign.

In March 2009, the official USA Purple Day Party was launched by the New York-based Anita Kaufmann Foundation – a charity dedicated to educating the public about epilepsy and they joied forces with the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia to launch Purple Day internationally. The combined efforts of AKF and EANS have led to the involvement of numerous organizations, schools, businesses, politicians and celebrities around the world. On March 26, 2009, over 100,000 students, 95 workplaces and 116 politicians participated in Purple Day. As the global sponsors of Purple Day, both organizations are committed to partnering with individuals and organizations around the world to promote epilepsy awareness and make a difference to help others internationally and bring epilepsy out of the shadows.

Canadian Paul Shaffer of the Late Show with David Letterman was one of many special guests that attended the official launch. One of his relatives is an epileptologist in Toronto, Canada, so he is familiar with some of the barriers that affect person’s with epilepsy and wanted to attend the event to offer his support for Cassidy Megan’s campaign. Deirdre Floyd, President of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and Chair of the Purple Day for Epilepsy Campaign, member agency of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance was another special guest who also attended the event

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