Australian water polo goalkeeper, Luke Quinlivan, is competing against epilepsy discrimination in a TV advert that launches today as part of Epilepsy Australia’s national awareness month.
In the Community Service Announcement (CSA) Quinlivan promises to do his best in his pursuit of representing Australia in the 2012 Olympic Games, and asks Australians to do their best by not discriminating against people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a common condition with 224,000 Australians diagnosed, yet data from Epilepsy Australia and Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria national epilepsy longitudinal study has found that people often face prejudice from the community and employers. Luke was diagnosed with epilepsy 12 years ago, but through effective management strategies the condition has not stopped him becoming an elite athlete and one of the highest rated goalkeepers in world water polo. In the CSA Quinlivan explains “Even today people with epilepsy face incredible discrimination, but this prejudice is just another obstacle we can overcome”.
Filmed at the Western Australian Institute of Sport in Perth, Luke is seen going through the rigorous training regime that The Sharks squad follows every day. He reminds us that for people living with epilepsy “We’re just as capable as anyone else and often we have to be stronger”.
Tony Chapman, Chief Executive Officer of Epilepsy Tasmania says the campaign is seeking to draw attention to the realities of the condition not the myths: “Misconceptions about epilepsy can often deny people the opportunities that others take for granted. In many cases it is the prejudice not the disorder that hold people back. Luke is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through effective management as well as a supportive network of friends and colleagues. He is a real inspiration for people living with epilepsy”.
Throughout March Epilepsy Tasmania is encouraging people to better understand the condition and to show their support for friends and colleagues living with epilepsy by supporting Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness, 26 March.
For a sneak preview of the ads: http://www.youtube.com/user/EpilepsyTVAustralia?feature=watch
The story of Luke Quinlivan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLYMs3gV6r0
What is epilepsy?
Our brain is made up of millions of cells called neurones. Messages in the form of tiny electric signals are sent along these neurones, telling our bodies what to do and feel, and how to act. A seizure occurs when these signals are interrupted. The messages being sent can get mixed up, and for a brief period of time, a person may not be able to control what they do.
The good news is that, like many other conditions, epilepsy can usually be managed with medication. Statistics tell us that eight out of ten people with epilepsy will stop having seizures once they are on medication.
Anyone at any age, level of intelligence or nationality can have epilepsy. It is estimated that 3 – 5% of Australians will have epilepsy at some time during their lifetime. Epilepsy is the world’s most common disorder of the brain, but remains a poorly understood condition. Few people can tell you exactly what epilepsy is and most are often unaware that seizures can take many forms and need not involve convulsions or ‘fits’. While seizures can be frightening, in most instances they stop without intervention. Once a seizure is over the person gradually regains control and re-orients themselves to their surroundings, generally without any ill-effects.
Famous people who have had epilepsy include Lewis Carroll, Julius Caesar, Hugo Weaving, Wally Lewis and Kerry Armstrong, Alexander the Great, Vincent Van Gogh, Danny Glover, and Henry Winkler.
– Approximately one in 120 people have epilepsy.
– Anyone can be affected by seizures at any age, but epilepsy is most frequently diagnosed in infancy, childhood, adolescence and old age.
– Up to 5% of the world’s population may have a seizure at some time in their lives. Epilepsy is diagnosed when the seizures are unprovoked and recurrent – in other words they happen more than once.
– It is estimated that around 50 million people in the world have epilepsy at any one time. Incidence in developing countries is almost double that of developed countries.
– Epilepsy is more than three times as common as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy.
– Up to 70% of people gain full seizure control with treatment but in developing countries, over 80% of people with epilepsy may not receive the treatment they need.
– A small percentage of people may be eligible for surgery.
– Approximately 70% of people who have epilepsy surgery become seizure free.
– Up to 15% of people referred to an epilepsy specialist centre do not actually have epilepsy and have been previously misdiagnosed.
– Epilepsy is a condition of the brain, not a mental illness.
– People with epilepsy can obtain a driver’s license if their seizures are controlled by medication or if they fulfill the guidelines set out by the driving authorities.
– It is commonly thought that epilepsy always involves convulsions or “grand mal” seizures. In fact there are around 40 different types of seizures.
– Many people outgrow or have a long term remission from seizures. Epilepsy is not necessarily a lifelong disorder.
– Epilepsy can have profound social, physical and psychological consequences.
– People with epilepsy can face social stigma and exclusion. A fundamental part of reducing this stigma is to raise public and professional awareness.
More information on Epilepsy: http://www.epilepsytasmania.org.au/epilepsy_information_library