New help when epilepsy patients need it most

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When people over sixty years old experience unusual feelings like lost time, confusion, or seizures, they may think it's just because they're getting older. Kelsey Seybold Clinic is trying to spread the message that they could actually have epilepsy. It's a problem that's on the rise. Experts at Kelsey Seybold say they realize it's a disease that affects the entire family, which is why they started the first support group in Houston.

One man tells FOX 26 News what a tough disease it can be. Natvar Vyas says life in 2011 was just as normal as can be. He felt healthy and had a good job, but then a life-altering health event changed everything. 

"It was so dramatic," explains Natvar. "I was working on computer at home alone, my wife was in California. It happened all of a sudden, and I blacked out and fell on the floor. When I woke up hours later, I was in pain in my hip and back. I didn't know what to do.

It took him several hours to crawl to a phone after he suffered his first seizure. When he fell out of his chair, he seriously injured his head, hip, and back.

"L1, L2, L3 vertebra all compressed -- it was so painful," says Natvar. 

"With patients like that, they have co-existing medical problems," says Dr. Kamayani Khare, a neurologist at Kelsey Seybold Clinic. "He already had arthritis and having that seizure, all of a sudden out of surprise, all of the fractures led to more medical issues."  Dr. Khare says one of those major complications was a blood clot he suffered (DVT), after being bedbound so long.

It's important to know the warning signs of a seizure. 

"A lot of people know them as a grand mal or full-body convulsions, but they can be as simple as where people are staring and not be responding or they can lead to mouth or leg or arm twitching and that can involve the whole body," explains Dr. Khare. "It can be small or big or transition from small to big." She definitely sees the trend of more elderly people dealing with seizures. 

"That's because people are living longer, so there are more medical diseases and problems that they're suffering from, and that can lead to seizures," says Dr. Khare. She says it's important to figure out why it's happening.  

"Whether it's a stroke, infection, or tumor, then treat the seizure, often with medication," adds Dr. Khare. 

Kelsey Research Foundation began the first support group in Houston to help epilepsy patients, along with their family, friends, and caretakers.  One of the programs is called Uplift, and that's what they do for patient's moods.

"Often times, a lot of epilepsy patients live alone, not a lot of family and friends so they do need to connect to other patients who have epilepsy," says Valerie Coffman, LVN and Epilepsy Coordinator with Kelsey Research Foundation. "It's important so that they feel that they can connect to someone who understands them." 

Natvar agrees. He suffered another seizure in 2015. Like many people with epilepsy, it has drastically changed everything for him. 

"I was forced into retirement because I wasn't able to work, couldn't drive, so painful I couldn't even ride in a car," explains Natvar. A local support group helps these patients from feeling isolated. Coupled with close follow-ups at Kelsey Seybold Clinic, Natvar feels like he has his disease under control.

Kelsey-Seybold Research Foundation offer the support groups to the public, so those dealing with epilepsy don't even have to be a patient at Kelsey Seybold to get the benefits of this free help!

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