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March 18, 2020

Purple Day 2020 – International Epilepsy Awareness Day

Thursday 26th March is Purple Day, an international day to raise awareness of Epilepsy. Epilepsy is a serious neurological condition that can affect anyone, at any age and from any walk of life. There are around 600,000 people in the UK living with Epilepsy, that’s a similar figure to people living with autism.


Epilepsy is a condition which people often know very little about and it can still be a little bit of a taboo subject. Spark! is hoping to help change that at SHU by raising awareness of the condition and hopefully dispel some myths at the same time.



We had hoped to run a stall selling cakes, answering people’s questions and informing people about the support services available to staff and students with Epilepsy and other disabilities on campus. However, under the current circumstances we decide to cancel this and move all our information online instead.


Epilepsy affects around one in every 100 people in the UK. Every day, 87 people are diagnosed.


Epilepsy is often thought of as something children are born with that they will eventually grow out of, however one in every four people newly diagnosed with epilepsy is over the age of 65. 


For some, seizures are life-threatening: 1,000 people die in the UK every year because of their epilepsy. As many as 400 of these deaths could be prevented. Around half of these 1,000 deaths are from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), in which someone with epilepsy dies and no obvious cause of death can be found.


Deaths in people with epilepsy have increased by 70% and people with the condition now die on average eight years earlier than the rest of the population, according to new figures from Public Health England (PHE), published in February 2018.


Only 52% of people with epilepsy in the UK are seizure free. It is estimated that with the right treatment, the majority of people with epilepsy (70%) could be seizure free. 


There are a lot of myths around about Epilepsy, can you spot the facts? 



Fact or Myth


  • A seizure happens when there is a sudden intense burst of electrical activity in the brain.
  • When someone is having a seizure, they will always fall to the floor and start jerking.
  • If you see someone having a seizure you should never put something in their mouth.
  • Most people with epilepsy are not affected by flashing lights.  
  • Anyone who has epilepsy shouldn’t drive a car.
  • If you have epilepsy you should not go swimming.


How did you do?


  • Fact – this sudden, intense burst of electrical activity in the brain causes messages between cells to get mixed up and results in an epileptic seizure.
  • Myth – Someone having a tonic-clonic (convulsive) seizure goes stiff, loses consciousness, falls to the floor and begins to jerk and convulse. There are around 60 different types of seizure, including seizures where you might not fall to the floor and may stay aware of what’s happening around you. (Find out more at
  • Fact – When someone is having a seizure, never restrain the person, put something in their mouth or try to give them food or drink.
  • Fact – Only around 3 in every 100 people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy. Photosensitive epilepsy is where someone has seizures that are triggered by flashing or flickering lights or patterns. 
  • Myth – When you can drive a car or motorcycle depends on the type of seizures you have. If you’ve had to stop driving because of seizures, for most people they will be allowed to drive 12 months after their last seizure.
  • Myth – If your seizures are completely controlled, you don’t need to take any greater safety precautions than anyone else. If you are still having seizures you need to consider safety precautions. 


Staff stories


Read about Hallam staff members experience of being diagnosed, working and living with epilepsy.


Holly’s story

Photo of Holly holding her young son.



Katie’s story