What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that affects 1% to 2% of the population. The people affected have recurring and spontaneous seizures. There are different types of seizures but they are always due to bursts of electrical activity in the brain. These bursts are caused by a chemical imbalance responsible for the transmission of impulses. Epilepsy can often be managed with medication and 75% of people are seizure free.
How does epilepsy affect people in employment?
People with epilepsy may have a seizure at work. Seizures vary widely and may be difficult to spot. They often only last a few seconds or in some cases up to a minute. The person may experience impaired consciousness, jerking or twitching in the limbs and they may fall and have convulsions. In some cases the person will not remember the seizure and may be confused and disorientated. As the impact of epilepsy varies greatly it is important to discuss the person's individual experience of epilepsy with them and ask them what accommodations they may need. The Epilepsy New Zealand website has advice about what to do if you are with someone who is experiencing a seizure.
Epilepsy New Zealand provides support for those with the condition and awareness for those around them. A local epilepsy field worker may be able to provide advice on making accommodations at work.