Young kids, teenagers, and adults alike were saddened about the sudden death of popular television and movie star Cameron Boyce earlier this month. At just 20 years old, he left a lasting impression on fans who loved him for his characters on-screen and his heartfelt philanthropic efforts off-screen.
His death has been attributed to a traumatic seizure from SUDEP, or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. SUDEP claims about 1 in every 1,000 people with epilepsy each year and is often more common in those in their late teens or early 20s.
With SUDEP, it’s thought that the body’s ability to obtain oxygen after a prolonged seizure is impaired. This may occur when sleeping or after having vomited and restricting airways.
Child Neurology Consultants’ pediatric neurologists Dr. Kate Labiner and Dr. Aaron Cardon both shared information on this tragic condition in local news stories recently.
Dr. Labiner stressed the importance of keeping regular appointments with your physician to discuss seizures and assess medications. Frequent monitoring via an electroencephalogram — EEG — either at home or in the hospital is also very helpful to track what kind of seizures are occurring and how oxygen levels in the body are affected. She says there are also innovative smartwatches that epileptics can wear to notify someone else when they are suffering from a seizure.
These devices don’t work for all types of seizures so it’s best to discuss the use of these with an expert, preferably someone who specializes in treating epilepsy.
Dr. Cardon seconds that taking medication to control seizures is essential. He also adds that using devices to monitor seizures when sleeping — such as special smartwatches or even a baby monitor–can help make others aware if that someone is having a seizure.
If you have questions or concerns about your child, teenager, or young adult’s epilepsy, please contact us for an appointment with one of our specialists.
Dr. Labiner was featured in the Austin American-Statesman.
Dr. Cardon was featured on KXAN.