Saturday, November 8, 2014

New program raises awareness of benefits animals have on people with seizure disorders

Via PR Newswire - Eisai Inc. has announced the launch of Magnolia Paws for Compassion, a new program created to raise awareness of the beneficial impact that animals can have on people living with epilepsy and seizure disorders.

Living with a seizure disorder can be physically challenging and can take an emotional toll on many of the 2.3 million American adults currently living with epilepsy, as well as the 467,711 children and teens living with epilepsy and seizure disorders.

This can lead to feelings of depression, isolation and loneliness for the person living with the condition, as well as stress, worry and anxiety for family members and caregivers. Research has proven that the companionship of trained assistance animals helps individuals with seizure disorders feel more relaxed, positive and better able to manage their condition.

To raise awareness of this important tool to help families coping with seizure disorders, Eisai has partnered with celebrity animal behaviorist and star of the Emmy-nominated CBS television series Lucky Dog, Brandon McMillan, as well as the Epilepsy Foundation and 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit organization focused on the training and placement of service dogs for children with a variety of conditions, including epilepsy.

"While most people are aware of guide dogs for the blind or deaf, many may not know about the invaluable impact that assistance dogs can have for those households coping with a seizure disorder," said McMillan. "In my decades of experience as an animal trainer, I've seen firsthand the power that animals have to enhance people's lives and this is even more true for those coping with a serious illness."

Service dogs, which include seizure assistance dogs for people with epilepsy and seizure disorders, are rigorously trained to perform tasks for people with various needs. Seizure assistance dogs are typically trained for 12 to 18 months to help with physical challenges and to respond to a seizure in someone who has epilepsy.

"Living with a seizure disorder can be physically challenging and emotionally isolating for both the person living with the condition and their caregivers," said Nathan Fountain, M.D., Professor of Neurology and Director of the F.E. Dreifuss Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

"Assistance dogs provide functional assistance to help people gain back independence and are trained to bark or alert when a seizure occurs. This can be extremely helpful if seizures occur frequently or during the night when caregivers are asleep," Dr. Fountain said.

In cases where a highly-trained seizure assistance dog is not needed, research has shown that interaction with therapy dogs or even household pets can increase socialization and provide emotional support. People with seizure disorders or their family members can learn more about how to maximize the benefits of animal assistance in their lives at

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