June 18, 2019

‘Significant Help’: Experts, Community Laud Launch of National Epilepsy Helpline in Australia

Larissa Ryan has lived with epilepsy since she was eight years old. While she has a job and has been able to travel the world, Ms Ryan said her epilepsy remains unpredictable, which can be a problem.

“The frequency of the seizures, the intensity of the seizures and the impact and the uncertainty that has on my daily life is something that can be very scary for my kids, that uncertainty of not knowing what can happen,” she said.

Now, a new service aims to help Ms. Ryan and the 250,000 other Australians living with epilepsy. Launched on Tuesday, the Epilepsy Nurse Line provides access to nurses trained in epilepsy treatment between the hours of 9am and 5pm, seven days a week.

The director of comprehensive epilepsy services at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Associate Professor Armin Nikpour said epilepsy is a “very varied disease” and it is hard for patients to get information that is specific to their condition and experiences.

Carol Ireland, chief executive of Epilepsy Action Australia, said the federal government is providing $1.3 million in funding for the service over three years. This year’s funding went to training the 30 specialised nurses and setting up the service, and the rest will go to maintaining the helpline over the next couple of years.

“Once we start to advertise that there is such a service, then we expect we will get many more calls than we’ve been getting and that obviously increases the cost of the service,” she said.

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