By Deron Hamel
Epilepsy Ontario is focusing this year’s Epilepsy Action Day at Queen’s Park on the need to standardize care for people with epilepsy across Ontario through dissemination and implementation of the province’s clinical epilepsy guidelines, as well as explaining what the guidelines mean for patients and doctors.
This year’s Epilepsy Action Day is Feb. 28.
While Epilepsy Ontario is commending the provincial government for supporting the development of Ontario’s new evidence-based guidelines for epilepsy care, the agency would like the province to also support a plan to help spread word about the guidelines and have the necessary training and support to implement the guidelines.
Epilepsy Ontario executive director Paul Raymond says that he is pleased that guidelines were finalized last year and hopes Epilepsy Action Day will result in the province working more closely with local health integration networks, community healthcare providers and people living with epilepsy to raise awareness of Ontario’s epilepsy guidelines.
“They’ve invested in the development of a comprehensive series of guidelines on epilepsy care, but what we need from (the government) now is more work around the knowledge translation piece at the community level,” Raymond says.
“The guidelines are great, but if community neurologists and family physicians don’t know they exist, that really won’t improve care.”
For example, one-third of people with epilepsy do not become seizure-free with medication alone but other treatments could result in improved seizure control or stop their seizures all together. Until recently there was no standardized approach to diagnosis and treatment. The new guidelines help health-care providers determine the next steps to improve the care of their patients.
“Things like that are really important to standardize care, the (doctors) need to know where to refer their patients and when to refer a patient to an epileptologist for an evaluation,” Raymond says. “This information needs to be communicated to physicians outside of the district and regional epilepsy centres.”
Epilepsy Ontario will also use Action Day to celebrate the provincial government’s excellent work in helping enhance quality of life for people with seizure disorders, as well as asking for continued funding to support the Ontario Brain Institute’s research.
EpLink, a provincial epilepsy research program funded by the Ontario Brain Institute, is conducting research to find new treatments to stop seizures and new strategies to improve quality of life.
Feb. 28 will be the sixth Epilepsy Action Day at Queen’s Park. The purpose of the event is for representatives from Epilepsy Ontario and other support agencies to meet with MPPs to discuss the needs of people living with seizure disorders and what role government can play to improve the quality of life for those living with the condition.
The last Epilepsy Action Day was in November 2015. For 2017, Epilepsy Ontario moved the date to late February to be closer to March, which is Epilepsy Awareness Month across Canada, Raymond says.
If you have feedback on this story, or have a story of your own that you would like to share, please contact the newsroom at 1-800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.com. You can also leave a comment below.