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Your Child, Sports, and Epilepsy

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Playing Sports With Epilepsy

Some children with epilepsy worry that they won't be able to play sports. A lot of parents have the mistaken impression that sports are too dangerous. But sports are an important part of any child's life, and in most cases, sports are safe for children with epilepsy. There isn't a hard and fast rule about what sports a kid with epilepsy should or shouldn't play. It ultimately comes down to common sense about your child's particular condition. Turk encourages his patients, both children and teenagers, to think practically about their abilities. He asks his patients to imagine the consequences of having a seizure during a particular activity. If the consequences are dangerous, they shouldn't do it.

Having a seizure on the soccer or baseball field isn't dangerous, although it may be embarrassing. However, having a seizure while rock-climbing could be dangerous, so children who are prone to seizures should take special precautions.

What about contact sports? Again, it depends. If your child is prone to seizures, a loss of consciousness on the football field might be risky. But if the medicine is working and seizures are under control, then the risk of having a seizure on the field is really quite low. Some parents worry about children with epilepsy being hit on the head. There isn't any evidence that the brains of kids with epilepsy are more fragile than usual. For children whose seizures are under control, contact sports are just as safe or risky as they are for anyone else.

Dealing With Your Child's Coaches

You should deal with a coach -- or a lifeguard -- just as you would a teacher: You should tell the coach right up front that your child has epilepsy. Even if it's been a while since your child last had a seizure, it's still better to mention it. There's nothing to be ashamed of, and it's good for the coach to be prepared for a possible seizure.

You may run across some poorly informed coaches who resist having a child with epilepsy on the team. If this happens, you should step in. The coach may not know any better, and a little education about epilepsy may change his or her mind.

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