A principal goal for epilepsy education and awareness programs for the public at large is to combat stigma, in the hope that this will lead to improved quality of life for people with epilepsy.

Misinformation and misperceptions regarding epilepsy have a long history and are still prevalent throughout society. Although some surveys suggest that attitudes toward people with epilepsy have improved over time, it is not certain how contemporary attitudes compare and whether the overall improvements have affected behavior. People acquire information about epilepsy from many sources, including family and friends, entertainment and news media, the Internet, and social media.

Overview of Epilepsy

Research in epilepsy is focused on trying to understand the process that leads the brain to have seizures as well as trying to discover new and better ways to treat epilepsy. Our ability to define the different problems that can lead to epilepsy at genetic, molecular, and cellular levels will help us to target prevention and therapy. For example, recent research suggests that some forms of epilepsy result from disorders in ion channels; drugs that influence ion channels can help to control seizures. Other research has shown that excessive immunological responses (autoimmunity) can irritate brain cells and provoke seizures, and that seizure activity can lead to increased immunological activity.

Epilepsy is a disorder, not a disease. Anything that injures the brain or affects its functions has the potential to cause seizures. Epilepsy research is directed at trying to find common pathways that underlie epilepsy. Large multicenter studies that pool data from many sites may help us to collect a sufficiently powerful set of data to better understand the genetics of why epilepsy is difficult to control in some individuals while others have bad side effects to specific medications.

Increasing public awareness about epilepsy and advocating for patients and families remains critical for improving the quality of lives for people with epilepsy NOW. Our society often discriminates or creates obstacles for individuals with medical problems, especially those with disorders that are misunderstood. And epilepsy is the paradigm of a disorder in which lack of information and misinformation is common among the general population. Increasing awareness can make the school, work, and life with epilepsy much easier and much more productive.


The overarching goal of this campaign is to reduce the epilepsy knowledge and treatment gaps in Kenya.

*Orrin Devinsky is Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine. He directs the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and the Saint Barnabas Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery. He also currently directs the Phenome Core for the Epilepsy Phenome Genome Project. Orrin founded Finding A Cure Against Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES) and co-founded and the Epilepsy Therapy Project. He currently serves as the President of the Epilepsy Research Foundation and has served on boards of the American Epilepsy Society and local and national Epilepsy Foundation. He has published widely in epilepsy and behavioral neurology, with more than 250 articles, 50 chapters and 20 books and monographs.