Epilepsy and seizure management

by SKHC Editor on October 4, 2006

Greetings from Twyla,

It’s quiz time!

What health condition affects 2.7 million Americans and 315,000 students in the United States?  More than 45,000 new cases will be diagnosed in children this year alone.  One in 100 people will develop this condition. 

If you guessed epilepsy, you were right!  Give yourself a pat on the back.  One in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime.  Epilepsy is more common than Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis combined

Like many of the other health conditions in students that school nurses deal with, epilepsy has a unique set of nursing considerations.  One of the first is for the school nurse to educate herself about the type of seizure disorder the student has and how it is being treated – medication, diet, vagus nerve stimulation, surgery, or a combination of modalities.Then there is the development of the health care plan, with provisions for medical emergencies, if they should arise.

Perhaps the biggest piece of seizure management in the school setting is education of the staff.  They need to be made aware of the signs and symptoms that the student will exhibit, based on the type of seizure disorder that has been diagnosed, and they need to know how to care for the student during a seizure event.

Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of Diazepam rectal gel, which is used in emergency situations to control a seizure or cluster of seizures that will not stop.  The Nurse Practice Act in your state, your district’s policies and the health care provider’s orders will determine how this emergency medication will be used for the student.  This drug has been approved by the FDA for use by parents and non-medical caregivers, so additional training of staff will be needed, if it has been prescribed.

Some of the information in this article comes from a great resource for school nurses entitled  “Seizure Training for School Personnel”.  It calls itself a presentation guide and toolkit and it is jam-packed with information on epilepsy, all tied up in a neat package.  It contains a facilitator’s guide, overhead transparencies, overhead handouts and printouts, a DVD, CD-ROM and other materials.  The Epilepsy Foundation developed the toolkit through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  You won’t have to re-invent the wheel – it’s all there for you – a real timesaver.

If you don’t have one in your reference library, contact your local Epilepsy Foundation.  To locate the closest affiliate, call (800) 332-1000 or visit the Epilepsy Foundation’s website at www.epilepsyfoundation.org.  And don’t forget to check out the National Association of School Nurses website www.nasn.org for information from your professional organization.

Twyla Lato, RN, BSN, NCSN is a School District Nurse for a suburban community in southeast Wisconsin, and a past president of the Wisconsin Association of School Nurses. 






{ 1 comment }

llaselle1 June 7, 2007 at 2:05 pm

All school officials should be aware of epilepsy and seizures. I had one in school and fortunately my brother sat behind me in class. He picked me up and ran to the nurses office who then called a ambulance. The kids in school then called me an acid freak so the epilepsy foundation came to my school and educated everyone on seizures.

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