The many faces of epilepsy. "There are many types of epileptic crises and syndromes, each of different seriousness and prognosis, wherefore it is difficult to refer to epilepsy in general," claims Lucía Villacieros Hernández, Pediatrician and child neurologist at the Department of Pediatrics and Neonatology of Hospital Quirónsalud San José. Nevertheless, the doctor offers us some general recommendations for driving with an epileptic child in the vehicle.
First of all, diverse factors about your child's epilepsy must be considered, such as: crisis control (if the epilepsy is properly controlled, the trip will be less problematic), the types of crises (prolonged crises or falling onto the floor is not the same as experiencing lapses, which are usually brief crises without complications) and the period of time during which the child and his or her parents have been living with the epilepsy and, therefore, their knowledge and management of the condition.
ADVICE PRIOR TO TRAVELING
Before taking a trip, mention the details of the journey to your neuropediatrician. Request the doctor's opinion about your child's medical condition and whether the planned itinerary is appropriate. Also ask for a written medical report detailing the diagnosis and type of epilepsy, description of the crises, the treatment prescribed (dose and posology), and what to do in the event of decompensation.
Furthermore, don't forget to take any documents with you that are required for receiving medical attention at the destination (healthcare card, European health insurance card, medical insurance, etc.) and all of the medication your child will require during the time you will be away from home, as you don't know if you will be able to purchase it there.
DURING THE TRIP
Being on vacation is likely to alter our routines and this may entail risks and decompensation for an epileptic child. For this reason, it is important to follow a series of recommendations, such as: follow proper eating habits, sleep enough hours and take medication at the prescribed times (for example, after the main meals, breakfast and dinner, to prevent skipping a dose).
If traveling by car, the primary concern is to guarantee safety, with a quality, approved child restraint system adapted to the child's height and weight, and always fitted in the rear seats.
If the epilepsy is uncontrolled, and also during initial trips, it's a good idea for an adult to travel with the minor in the back of the car. This way, if the child has a seizure, the adult may offer help and administer the necessary medication (which you should always have packed on hand) to calm the crisis as fast as possible, always placing the child in the recovery position on his or her side, without introducing anything into their mouth. Then, we must get to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.
It is critical to refrain from being in a hurry to reach the destination, making rest stops if the trip is long and having a soft drink to regain strength.
By following these guidelines, the trip will be more pleasant and have fewer unexpected occurrences. You'll certainly take another trip again!
Lucía Villacieros Hernández
Pediatrician and child neurologist
Department of Pediatrics and Neonatology
Hospital Quirónsalud San José