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Debunking myths on epilepsy

There are 65 million people in the world who are battling epilepsy and of them, 15 million are in India. Despite these increasing numbers, people do not talk about epilepsy. We spoke to Dr P Sarat Chandra, Founder, Ekatwam, and Professor of Neurology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences who debunked myths surrounding this neurological disorder.

Myth: Most people think that epilepsy surgery cannot be successful.

Epilepsy surgery can be successfully done across India. I have seen the most satisfying results following the surgery. There was a child who came to us in 2002 who used to have 200-300 seizures a day. When he was admitted to the hospital, he was put on the ventilator. We did a surgery where one half of his brain was completely disconnected. When the child revisited us in 2015, he was fully integrated in the society as an adult. These are the kind of results that epilepsy treatments – be it medical or surgical – can produce. We have handled ~70–80 such cases.

Myth: Many parents fear that their child will not lead a normal life.

I have seen several cases where if a daughter has epilepsy, parents hesitate telling their relatives about her condition. Whereas, in the case of a son, the relatives accompany the child to a hospital for the treatment. Many parents secretly ask if they can get a surgery done on their daughter. They also fear if her in-laws or husband will come to know about the surgery, if they get it done, and will they accept her in the society. However, the truth is that epilepsy patients can lead a normal life. They can be treated and amalgamated completely into the society.

Myth: Epilepsy patients cannot succeed in life.

If this was truth then we would not have seen Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Charles Dickens, Tony Greig, Theodore Roosevelt, Michelangelo, Prince, Beethoven and Lil Wayne become successful. I feel if they could do it then others can too.

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