Letter to the Editor: Awareness for epileptic students

According to The Epilepsy Society, photosensitive epilepsy is defined as “when seizures are triggered by flashing lights or contrasting light and dark patterns.” I know that when planning a party or an event, there are so many details, it can be easy to overlook and not think of medical issues relating to epilepsy.
Personally, however, I can attest that I have not been able to attend many events because of the strobe and flashing lights at the events.  I personally was diagnosed at the age of 14 with grand mal or tonic clonic seizures.
Grand mal seizures are differentiated from diabetic or petit mal seizures. Petit mal seizures are usually referred to as “staring spells” when, in the course of 15 to 30 seconds, someone stops moving, twitches, or stops talking because of abnormal electrical brain activity. The person is usually unaware of the seizure.
Diabetic seizures have the same result as a grand mal seizure, only the reason for a diabetic seizure is hypoglycemia. Grand mal seizures happen because the entire brain’s surface becomes abnormally synchronized, which leads to rigid muscle contractions and unconsciousness. Both grand mal seizures and petit mal seizures can be triggered by strobe or flashing lights, like mine can be.
I also do not think that I am the only student on campus with this problem. Although strobe lights and flashing lights are popular and many people enjoy them, I would like to suggest that when planning events and parties in the future, some of the events or parts of events could be held without these types of lights. It will help bring the student body together and make everyone more aware of a medical problem that students face but often goes unnoticed.
I know that this is not a medical condition that many people are aware of, but if we put in practices and procedures as a campus to increase seizure-friendly events, this will lead to more integration for people with seizures. Students and faculty alike can also ask questions about why these new practices were initiated. Increased awareness and education on seizures could be beneficial.

–Samantha Rivera
Senior public relations major


Printed in the 11/12/14 issue.

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