Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles Trustee Christianne Heck Heads to Capitol to Help Release National Report on Public Health Priorities for Epilepsy

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Long-awaited Institute of Medicine Committee Report will address the broader spectrum of issues affecting those living with epilepsy

[The report] will culminate in a number of recommendations to improve the health and care of people with epilepsy, which we hope will make a true difference.

The Institute of Medicine Committee on The Public Health Dimension of the Epilepsies recently completed a 20-month long study and will be releasing its results in a report entitled “Epilepsy Across the Spectrum: Promoting Health and Understanding.” The Committee will travel to Washington D.C. to brief the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on the report before releasing it to the public on Friday, March 30, 2012.

Christianne Heck, M.D., M.M.M., Director of the University of Southern California Adult Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is a Trustee of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. Dr. Heck participated on the Committee and will act as a representative author of the report during the trip to the Capitol. In addition, Carrie Baum, a parent advocate and member of the local Foundation, was also invited to speak to the Committee in a public forum in Los Angeles last year. Sharing her personal experience, Baum pressed for more doctors who are better trained in epilepsy.

“Advances in research are improving our understanding of the scope of epilepsy and its public health impact. However, current approaches do not fully take into account either the broad range of epilepsy disorders and their comorbidities or their consequences for health and quality of life,” states the Institute of Medicine on its official study page.

“[The report] will culminate in a number of recommendations to improve the health and care of people with epilepsy, which we hope will make a true difference,” explained Dr. Heck.

The report will be released at a one-hour public briefing starting at 10 a.m. EDT Friday, March 30, in Room 100 of the National Academies’ Keck Center, 500 Fifth St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Those who cannot attend may participate through a live audio webcast.


To further understand the spectrum of issues for those living with epilepsy, the Institute of Medicine created an ad hoc committee of field experts to study and prepare a report to recommend priorities in public health, healthcare and human services, and health literacy and public awareness for the epilepsies and to propose strategies to address these priorities. The report will answer questions such as:

  • How can the public health burden of epilepsy for patients and families be more accurately assessed?
  • What priorities for future population health studies could inform treatment and prevention?
  • How can the access to health and human services and the quality of care for people with epilepsy be improved?
  • How can the education and training of professionals who work with people with epilepsy be improved?
  • How can the understanding of epilepsy in patients and the general public be improved to create supportive communities?

Without warning, seizures can happen to anyone at any age. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy. Seizures do not all look the same and, according to the International League Against Epilepsy, there are currently more than 25 different recognized epilepsy syndromes affecting almost 3 million people in the U.S. and about 60 million people worldwide. Someone is diagnosed with epilepsy every four minutes and, this year alone, another 200,000 people in our country will be diagnosed. To date, there are no known cures.

Established in 1957 as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles is leading the fight to END EPILEPSY and the burden of seizures. Our areas of focus are care, advocacy, research and education. We dedicate the CARE AND CURE Benefit to thousands of children with epilepsy who urgently need specialty care while they hope for cures.

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