Epilepsy is a disease which 125,000 Americans are diagnosed with each year. It is a dangerous condition of the brain that causes uncontrollable seizures, and they can happen at any moment, without so much as a warning. My mother has epilepsy and has shared some unfortunate stories with me about her unexpected seizures.
It would sometimes happen at school and she would fall to the ground and shake uncontrollably, hitting her head against the hard floor and biting her tongue, all while the other school children stood around her laughing because they did not understand. Another time she was boiling a pot of water for pasta and had a seizure that left her accidentally putting her hand into the boiling water, resulting in serious burns.
Luckily, my mother received a brain surgery over 20 years ago which has completely stopped the seizures, although she is required to take prescription medicine for the rest of her life. When I saw the following video it touched a special place in my heart. Check it out:
This is incredible. The dogs (like the one in the video) are called Disability Assistance Dogs and they are trained to detect and sense seizures before they happen, with enough time for their owners to find a safe spot to wait it out. The woman in the video is Shannon Locke, and even though she felt embarrassed to post this video on social media, it was important for her to raise awareness about these special dogs. She had the following to say about her video:
I’ve thought long and hard about posting this as it’s incredibly embarrassing… But this is epilepsy. My gorgeous seizure alert dog Poppy alerted me to this 15 minutes before,which gave me time to set the camera up. Poppy is amazing and not only does she alert me but she brings me out of the post icle stage of a seizure. I hope everyone can now see how amazing she is my beautiful life saving fur baby, who I would die without (literally!!)
If you are wondering why Poppy is constantly licking Locke’s face, it’s not just for comfort, it is to ensure that she does not choke on her saliva while having the seizure. Talk about impressive.
Neil Powell from Ireland is an expert dog trainer and has trained dogs to alert their owners of seizures, assist people in wheelchairs, and support those with autism. The long-term goal of this program is to find out exactly what the dogs are responding to before their owners have a seizure. The research team hopes this knowledge will ultimately assist in the development of a belt-worn electronic device which gives the wearer the same warning of an impending seizure.
Not only are these trained dogs providing some serious peace of mind and comfort for people suffering from epilepsy, but they are also saving lives.
If you would like to support the research that is currently taking place to train these dogs efficiently and effectively check out their funding campaign by clicking here.
You can also show your support and help to raise awareness about these very special dogs by liking the Facebook page, Disability Assistance Dogs.
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