‘Waking up to epilepsy’, hosted by University of Exeter Medical School, was a one-day educational meeting open to anyone with an interest in learning about epilepsy. Epilepsy Research UK supported the event, which took place on 20 April 2016, and here our research manager gives an account of the day.
“Waking up to epilepsy was a great success, with over 100 attendees from across the UK. Delegates included people with epilepsy and their relatives, GPs, nurses and affiliated medical professionals, all looking to gain a better understanding of epilepsy.
The day’s talks began with a general introduction to epilepsy, and also to two conditions that can be confused with epilepsy – syncope (fainting) and non-epileptic attack disorder – which was extremely enlightening. The focus then shifted to various aspects of epilepsy, including drug treatment, EEG and brain imaging, childhood epilepsy and psychiatric conditions associated with epilepsy. During one of the sessions, two epilepsy specialist nurses gave a detailed overview of the adult and paediatric epilepsy care systems in Exeter, and the extensive roles that they play within these.
All of the presentations were extremely informative and very appropriately pitched for the mixed audience. During the course of the day, there were a number of positive comments from delegates on twitter (#ExeterEpilepsy), and subsequent feedback has also been very encouraging.
As supporters of the meeting, we were delighted that the keynote lecture, delivered by Professors Mark Richardson (King’s College London) and John Terry (University of Exeter), focused on the findings of an Epilepsy Research UK-funded study into the role of functional brain networks in epilepsy. The speakers introduced a mathematical model that they have developed, which is able to take information from ‘between-seizure’ EEGs and reliably distinguish (using identified markers of activity) people who have epilepsy from those who don’t, without the need to observe seizures in EEG. The research team currently holds a follow-on grant from Epilepsy Research UK in which they hope to optimise the model and see if it can reliably identify, again from ‘between seizure’ EEG data, whether or not a person with focal epilepsy has responded to treatment. We are very excited about this research, as it will potentially have enormous clinical benefits to the diagnosis and management of epilepsy.
Waking up to epilepsy was a fantastic opportunity for us to meet new people and raise important awareness about our work, and it was extremely encouraging to see people so enthusiastic to learn about epilepsy. We really hope to see more events like this in the future.
Finally, we’d like to thank Exeter University Medical School, and in particular Helen Ryland and Cecilia Mañosa Nyblon, for being fantastic hosts, and congratulate them for organising such a worthwhile and enjoyable event.”