Epilepsy is a neurologic disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. Seizures are the result of electrical impulses spreading abnormally within the brain activating the nerve cells of the brain.
The nerve cells of the brain (neurons) normally make electrical impulses that cause other nerve cells, glands, and muscles, to create human thoughts, feelings and actions. But, for a person with epilepsy, the normal pattern of activity changes. This can cause the person to have strange sensations, emotions, and behavior, or sometimes convulsions or seizures, muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. In some people with epilepsy, this abnormal pattern of electrical activity happens only once in a while; for others, it may happen many times during a single a day.
Epilepsy was one of the first brain disorders to be described. It was mentioned in ancient Babylon more than 3,000 years ago. The strange behavior caused by some seizures has contributed through the ages to many superstitions and prejudices. The word epilepsy is derived from the Greek word for “attack.” People once thought that those with epilepsy were being visited by demons or gods. However, in 400 B.C., the early physician Hippocrates suggested that epilepsy was a disorder of the brain — and we now know that he was right.
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