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AES: Studies Explore Epilepsy, Driving Regulations

Three studies address impact of epilepsy on motor vehicle accidents

AES: Studies Explore Epilepsy, Driving Regulations

MONDAY, Dec. 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Three studies address the impact of epilepsy, subclinical epileptiform discharges (SEDs), and "seizure-like" non-epileptic events (NEEs) on driving. The studies are scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, held from Dec. 5 to 9 in Seattle.

Vineet Punia, M.D., from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues examined factors related to seizures that potentially impair driving and lead to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in people with medically refractory epilepsy. Data were included for 553 patients with epilepsy, of whom 215 (38.9 percent) reported having seizures while driving. The researchers found that, of those having seizures while driving, 74 had no accidents and 141 had accidents. The presence of a reliable aura did not differ between the groups. The odds of being involved in MVAs due to a seizure were increased for those with a history of complex partial seizures (odds ratio, 2.83).

Yang Si, M.D./Ph.D. student at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues examined the effects of sustained >1 second duration SEDs on driving safety. The researchers found that SEDs were less commonly associated with crashes. On analysis of SED characteristics, there was a trend for longer lasting generalized SEDs to be associated with a crash. In a third study, Kristine Ziemba, M.D., Ph.D., and Joseph Drazkowski, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic Arizona in Phoenix, found that people with NEEs may experience events while driving but these events are less likely to lead to a crash than epileptic seizures.

"To err on the side of safety, many neurologists will recommend that patients diagnosed with non-epileptic events refrain from driving just like those with active epilepsy," Ziemba said in a statement.

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