Epilepsy and Employment – Things to Consider

August 5, 2011

Many people with epilepsy are dissatisfied with their employment status. This can be risky because lower income, underemployment and unemployment are linked to difficult living conditions, loss of self esteem and higher rates of ill health and health-related problems.

Epilepsy should not be a major determining factor in a person’s ability to perform well in the work place. A person with epilepsy should be able to choose from a variety of occupations.

Strategies to assess the suitability of the candidate for a particular job are necessary. Both physicians and individuals with epilepsy may use assessment trees to assess job suitability.

Things to Consider for Job Suitability

  • Does the individual take antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)?
  • When did the latest seizure occur (with or without medication)?
  • If the epilepsy is still active, what type of seizures are experienced? (Description of seizures, frequency, severity)
  • When do seizures usually occur?
  • What are the possible provocative factors (e.g. lack of sleep, use of alcohol)?
  • What “secondary pathologies” (injuries) might be a consequence of seizures?
  • Are there any possible side effects of medication?

If a person takes AEDs and has been seizure free for over a year, there are  no need for anticipated problems in a work situation. If seizure-free for three to five years, some people may be able to phase out taking medication. If freedom from seizures continues, no problems need be expected.

Tip: If you find too much stigma attached to the word “epilepsy,” try the term “seizure disorder” instead.

Concerns Some Employers May Have about Epilepsy
Too many misconceptions about epilepsy and employment still abound. Correct information will help overcome them. When an employee decides to disclose, an employer is faced with a number of concerns. Read more about Epilepsy and the Employer.

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