In previous posts we discussed mental disorders that may qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits. In addition to mental disorders, there are many physical disorders such as epilepsy which may qualify an applicant for benefits.
Of the 200,000 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed yearly in the U.S., 70 percent have no known cause. Epilepsy is a collection of seizure disorders that start with a flood of abnormal electrical impulses in the brain, causing a response in any part of the body. Seizures may be nearly unnoticeable, like short lapses in communication and movement, or severe, causing full-body convulsions lasting a minute or two.
Out of the three million Americans with epilepsy, defined as patients who have had two or more random seizures, more than 625,000 are under age 16 or older than 65. The disorder and its seizures follow no single path of expression, although the Epilepsy Foundation reports that grand mal seizures, known as tonic-clonic seizures involving muscle stiffening and jerking movements, are the most common.
From the research that has been conducted so far, it is known that men are slightly more prone to epilepsy, young children and the elderly are most vulnerable and that risks increase with age and genetics may play a part in at least some types of epilepsy. Epilepsy is more likely among those with other disabling conditions like cerebral palsy and Alzheimer’s and strikes a greater proportion of racial minorities than Caucasians.
The traceable causes of epilepsy center on damage to the brain through illness, injury or medical conditions, but most epilepsy causes and seizure-triggers remain a mystery. For the triggers that doctors do know about, failure to take prescription medication as directed is the main reason for repeated seizures. Seizures have also been fired by hormone changes, disrupted sleep, substance abuse, lack of a high-fat diet, and sensitivity to light.
Source: ABC News, “How Can a High-Fat Diet Treat Epilepsy? Dr. Besser Reports,” Courtney Hutchinson, 4/21/11; National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Epilepsy,” 1/23/10