November 7, 2022
November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy, a disorder of disturbed nerve cell activity in the brain that causes seizures, can dramatically affect a person’s behavior and brain activity, often leading to a struggle with mental health.
“Consider that depression is more common in people who have severe epilepsy, and the uncertainty of not knowing when the next seizure will happen can contribute to anxiety, as can the disease’s wider impacts,” said Byron Broughten, Program Supervisor of People Incorporated’s Epilepsy Services program.
Small but mighty, Epilepsy Services enables three staff members to support around 30 individuals living with severe or intractable epilepsy throughout Minnesota. The team is highly flexible, often driving to rural areas to reach their clients.
“One of the main goals of the program is to try to bring services to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them,” said Broughten. “That’s a big reason why we go out and meet with people in Virginia, Minnesota, or the towns around St. Cloud.”
In these home visits, staff meets with the client to determine what they need to stabilize and better manage their epilepsy. Case managers are specialized in their respective county’s resources and processes, so they are able to effectively bridge the gap over whatever barriers the client may be experiencing to resource access. They can arrange for the client to secure an in-home nurse or an employment coach, help develop medication management routines, track seizure information, and practice tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, and meal planning. Epilepsy Services also often coordinates with neurology providers, most recently the Mayo Clinic, to get people connected to medical procedures that can significantly improve their quality of life.
The realistic and effective recovery plan created between the client and provider creates a sense of long-term security and stability that benefits the entire community’s health.
“We help people manage their epilepsy so that they aren’t using as many emergency services, like ambulance rides, when a health crisis comes up,” said Broughten. “We help people increase their independence related to housing, we help people try to get back into the workforce, and sometimes that’s a matter of helping them get their epilepsy under enough control that they’re able to work.”
The Epilepsy Services team is always looking for new sources of client referrals, and they’re continually interested in clinics and providers who also serve epilepsy patients who might benefit from a partnership. To make a referral or simply learn more about Epilepsy Services at People Incorporated, visit the Program page on our website.