Doctor: Please Explain: A New Series Features Doctors Explaining Various Chronic Conditions

In this program, disability advocate, Sita Sahasrabudhe, has an in-depth interview with Dr. Agha Khani, the head of the BC Epilepsy Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital. This clinic serves patients with hard-to-treat epilepsy from across the province.

The doctor explains that epilepsy takes many forms, depending on what part of the brain is affected, but one a seizure starts happening in that part of the brain, it can spread across the brain. He says some people have visual disturbances, others have hearing distortions, but what are mostly known to the general public are the tonic-clonic seizures, where people stiffen and fall, sometimes shake, and go unconscious.

He says that epilepsy can have on an impact on every aspect of a person's life: their mental health – depression and anxiety common; their physical well-being – they often get injured, sometimes severely; their economic well-being – it's hard to find and keep work; relationships are stressed – for many reasons, etc. He said that he gravitated to epilepsy because he could see that these patients suffered a great deal.

Medications, or a cocktail of medications, are the mainstay of treatment. Fortunately new medications come on stream regularly, as they stop working for patients after a while. However, there hasn't been a medication yet that is a silver bullet. There are other technological treatments, but they didn't have a chance to get into too much detail.

He says that epilepsy affects one percent of the population, so that's 400,000 in the Canadian population, 50,000 in British Columbia, and likely 800 in New Westminster, BC.

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