It is important that we have an active, healthy lifestyle and give ourselves time for rest, relax and exercise.
Relatively few restrictions are necessary for children and young people with epilepsy, and they should be encouraged to enjoy a full social life.
Seizures are less likely to occur when children are engaged in satisfying mental or physical activity.
Epilepsy and sport
It is good practice to take sensible precautions and do a risk assessment for each activity being considered.
Think about ways of making each activity as safe as possible without being overprotective. You will need to consider the age and capability of the child, as well as how often they have seizures and what type they are.
It is also important to consider what the consequences would be if a child had a seizure during the activity.
If a child has unpredictable seizures then it is advisable to follow these safety precautions:
- Swimming – the child should always be closely supervised in the water and the lifeguard informed.
- Cycling – always wear a helmet and avoid cycling on busy roads.
- Activities at height – for activities without safety harnesses the child should be discouraged from climbing anything higher than their own height.
Epilepsy and driving
In March 2013, driving regulations for people with epilepsy were updated. For Group 1 licences which include driving cars and motorcycles:
- Before the regulations were changed anyone having seizures during sleep only were able to obtain a licence after three years. These people will now be considered for a driving licence after one year.
- Prior to these amendments, those with focal seizures that did not affect consciousness or impede their ability to drive, e.g. lip smacking, mouth movements, numbness, tingling sensations etc, were unable to keep their driving licence unless they were seizure free for one year. Under the new regulations they can now apply for a licence as long as they are not experiencing any other type of seizure, one year after experiencing their first focal seizure.
- Prior to March 2013, those people with epilepsy who experienced seizures when their medication regime was changed were unable to drive for a year. Under the new regulations a person can apply for a licence after a six month period of seizure freedom if they have returned to the regime that successfully controlled their seizures.
For details of Group 2 entitlement which includes driving lorries, buses, please visit Gov.uk
Travelling with a child who has epilepsy
Children with epilepsy can travel abroad as any other children, but it is important to consider precautions:
- Make sure your holiday insurance covers emergency medical treatment for the child’s epilepsy.
- If the child has been prescribed emergency medication (also known as rescue medication) for prolonged seizures, check the expiry date and have it with you at all times.
- If you are travelling by plane, you should take the child’s medication in your hand luggage in case your luggage is lost or delayed. If the medication is in liquid form, check with the airline the rules about taking liquids on board a plane and inform them of your child’s epilepsy.
- Because the names of drugs vary in different countries, the medication should be taken in its original packaging and you should be aware of the scientific (generic) name.
- Take extra medication in case your return journey is delayed. Give the child their medication at regular intervals and make gradual adjustments to the time difference of the country you are visiting.
- Carry a doctor’s letter with details of the child’s condition and the medication that they take (preferably translated into the language of the country you are visiting). Online personal records can be created at www.doctorbabel.com and can be translated.
- Avoid letting the child become overtired or dehydrated from the travelling and the heat. If the child is going to be staying up late at night, encourage them to have a sleep during the day to avoid overtiredness.
Accessibility for disabled children
Disabledgo provides disability access information. It gives details of various venues; simply type in the name of the town and the places you want to visit.
The Disabled Persons Railcard
If your child is disabled and has been issued with a Disabled Person’s Railcard, your child will travel at the standard child fare, but the adult travelling with them will receive a discount of one third off the standard adult fare.
For details about the railcard, visit Disabled Persons Railcard.
The National Key Scheme (NKS)
This scheme allows disabled people to buy a key which gives access to around 7,000 locked public toilets around the country. The keys can be obtained from the disability network, RADAR.