The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), the world’s leading professional organization working on behalf of epilepsy, has published new ways of classifying and naming the many different types of seizures. It took many years for this work to be done. People with epilepsy were involved and gave feedback during this lengthy process too.
Now it is our turn to learn about these changes and what they mean for our lives and care.
Why change the names of seizures? Won’t this be more confusing?
Change is hard, and the new terms may be confusing at first. Yet, the new classification makes more sense. For example, it…
- Emphasizes where seizures start. The onset or beginning of a seizure is key in knowing what part of the brain is affected, what treatments may help you, and what you may expect over time.
- Simplifies how we describe the many features that may happen during a seizure.
- Includes all the different types of seizures. The older classification left out many types and didn’t offer a way to classify seizures that we didn’t have enough information about yet.
Is this seizure classification for people with epilepsy, families, and the general public? How can I use this?
The basic seizure classification was intended to be used by health care professionals not specializing in epilepsy. A more detailed classification is available too. The intent of the expanded classification is to help professionals specializing in epilepsy.
It’s also for you – anyone living with epilepsy and anyone caring for or about persons with epilepsy.
- Learning new terms may be hard, but using the new terms will help you be on the same page when talking with your health care team.
- The new terms may be easier for others to understand too. For example, knowing if changes in movement occur during a seizure can be very helpful for people to know for seizure first aid.
- This gives us a more complete way to talk about all seizure types.
- This seizure classification does not take the place of the words or ways we describe epilepsy syndromes.
How can we learn more?
Earlier this year the Epilepsy Foundation introduced you to these changes and now we offer more help.
- Visit our revised Seizure Type pages to see how the “old terms” relate to the new ones. (A few pages are still being revised so stay tuned.)
- Read the Position Paper of the ILAE Commission for Classification and Terminology, as published in Epilepsia, March 2017.
- Listen to Drs. Joe Sirven and Bob Fisher discuss the changes in a Hallway Conversations podcast.
If you have questions, contact our 24/7 Epilepsy & Seizures Helpline at 800-332-1000.
Stay positive and keep talking about seizures and epilepsy!
Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN
Associate Editor, epilepsy.com