California School Nurses Receive Critical Epilepsy Education

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Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles partners with California School Nurses Organization to bring critical epilepsy education to school nurses

A program from the "Epilepsy Update - Students with Seizures" workshop and general session.

A program from the "Epilepsy Update - Students with Seizures" workshop and general session.

A child’s only job is to learn…school nurses have an important role in helping to ensure the students safety and well-being in order to optimize their learning experience.

At the invitation of the California School Nurses Organization, the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles together with Epilepsy California and Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County organized a half-day workshop and general session on “Epilepsy Update–Students with Seizures” for California’s school nurses during their annual conference in San Diego on February 7 and 8, 2013. These courses were part of our program, "Managing Students with Seizures", to help train and support nurses on the frontline in our schools.

The sessions provided an opportunity to learn about the basics of epilepsy/seizures, seizure first aid and safety, current treatments, and the impact of epilepsy and/or treatments on learning, behavior and mental health. Videos of the more common types of seizures experienced by students were shown so school nurses would be better able to recognize seizures. There were also updates on Diastat in the school, and best practices around developing seizure action plans and the key elements for training teachers and other school personnel.

“A child’s only job is to learn.” Susan Pietsch-Escueta, Executive Director of the Epilepsy Greater Los Angeles emphasized during her opening remarks and later expanded on this to say that, “school nurses have an important role in helping to ensure the students safety and well-being in order to optimize their learning experience.”

Partnering to improve the safety and well-being of students with epilepsy in California included: Dr. Sonya Wang, an assistant professor of neuroscience at UC San Diego and pediatric neurologist at Rady Children’s Hospital, gave an overview on Students with seizures and seizure first aid. Dr. Arthur Partikian, an assistant professor of neurology at USC-Keck School of Medicine, presented on Childhood epilepsies and the neuropsychiatric impact. Dr. Mary Zupanc, professor of pediatrics and neurology at UC Irvine presented video examples of seizures during her presentation on Understanding epilepsy: What you should know about seizures. A panel presentation on Training School Personnel on Epilepsy and Administration of Diastat in Schools was led by Dr. Howard Taras, a school physician with the San Diego Unified School District, Lynda Burlison, health services coordinator for the Glendale Unified School District, Dr. Partikian and Dr. Zupanc. Dr. Rienzi Haytasingh, an educational psychologist and neuropsychologist at Brain Learning Assessment and Treatment, closed the workshop with a presentation on Neuropsychometric assessment as a tool to improve learning.

One astute school nurse noted after participating in the workshop: “Students with epilepsy will need social, emotional and academic support.”

The Epilepsy Foundation – both national and regional – is eager to provide the education and resources our school nurses need to care for students with seizures on the frontlines – in our schools and classrooms. An online course, “Managing Students with Seizures,” created by the Epilepsy Foundation is also available through the National Association of School Nurses website.

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 65 million people worldwide. Someone is diagnosed with epilepsy every four minutes and, this year alone, almost 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 fundraising and community efforts support care, advocacy and education, today, while investing in research and hope for tomorrow. Visit us online at

Epilepsy California is a joint effort of the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County and Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles and works cooperatively with the Epilepsy Alliance of Orange County. Epilepsy California is the recognized, unified voice of Californians with epilepsy. We are pro-active in developing a statewide epilepsy agenda and advocate for public policy which ensures the rights of people affected by epilepsy to fully participate as contributing members of their communities.

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Rebekkah Halliwell
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