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Old 12-19-2012, 03:07 PM   #1
Michael McCarthy
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Epilepsy and CrossFit

Hello everyone,

I had a gentleman walk into my box today that was very eager to start crossfit. After speaking to him for a bit I had found out he has epilepsy. When I asked to to explain to me a little more about what sets an episode off he replied that he has only had one seizure while he was awake. They usually happen while he is sleeping. He is 30 years old and was diagnosed when he was 2. He had also explained to me that he fights MMA, Sparring ect.. And insight on this topic would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-26-2012, 08:39 AM   #2
Andy Shirley
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Re: Epilepsy and CrossFit

Is he cleared to drive?

I would get clearance from his Epileptologist/Neurologist either way.

(not medical advice, I would have him ask his healthcare professional regarding this)

That being said, if I had epilepsy: I would avoid things that could kill me if I had a seizure while doing them. In the gym: rope climbs, maybe even pullups(at least over a good pad). I would squat in a rack. Weight overhead seems to be risky also.
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Old 12-26-2012, 09:14 AM   #3
Michael McCarthy
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Re: Epilepsy and CrossFit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Shirley View Post
Is he cleared to drive?

I would get clearance from his Epileptologist/Neurologist either way.

(not medical advice, I would have him ask his healthcare professional regarding this)

That being said, if I had epilepsy: I would avoid things that could kill me if I had a seizure while doing them. In the gym: rope climbs, maybe even pullups(at least over a good pad). I would squat in a rack. Weight overhead seems to be risky also.
Great advice, thank you
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:43 PM   #4
Frank E Morel
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Re: Epilepsy and CrossFit

If the person has epilepsy since he is 2 and he is 30, he is going to have a waaaay initimate understanding of his limitations than his md will ever understand.
If he swims, he can do crossfit.
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:00 AM   #5
Patrick Rushbrook
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Re: Epilepsy and CrossFit

Frank nailed it but I'll elaborate..a lot.

I'm Epileptic, starting at 7 and diagnosed at 13. I'm 33 now. My seizures are under control for the most part. I've had one Grand Mal (flopping) in my life and it was 20 years ago. The smaller ones have come on maybe every 5 years or so. Meds are adjusted and I go on about my business. My small ones don't affect my physicality, coherence or mental state. I just get a little odd feeling and have trouble focusing until it passes (15 seconds or so). I've had one while driving before and it was no big deal. I pulled over, it passed, I merged back into traffic. Granted, I got my meds adjusted.

Historically, my Petit Mals (no floppers) have had to build up over time before I crash (flop). Up until the day of my major seizure my record was 7 Petit Mals in one day (this is over 6 years time). The day of my Grand Mal I had 20 Petit Mals. Obviously, my threshold had been reached. I was also ill with the Flu, and being 13 years old I was pretty much at the peak of puberty which is affecting me in all sorts of ways. A lot of people who are diagnosed as children will grow out of Epilepsy after puberty, so obviously there's a connection there.

Every case of Epilepsy is different. Some people have no idea when a seizure is coming, some people can feel it building up hours in advance and take precautions. At 30, your client knows his disease well and should have a good understanding of his limitations. I would make sure that he's medicated and find out about the frequency of his seizures. His not having one outside of being asleep is significant, as the brain is doing things and different hormones are are kicking around inside him (non-scientific info there..lol).

Andy Shirley is right in that a person should avoid situations that could kill them with a seizure, but common sense risk assessment by the afflicted individual should be fine. I know I can do whatever I want. About the only precaution I take is to not stand close enough to traffic to fall in front of a car if I should happen to drop and flop. That's about it. I get enough sleep (important for Epileptics) and never miss a dose of my medicine. A properly medicated Epileptic is just as normal as anyone without Epilepsy. And really, the worst risk I can think of in a gym is bench press, but if you do it just have him bench in a rack if you're concerned about it.

I will say I have asked about head contact like boxing and my Neuro said it's fine as long as the meds are fine and I'm stable. eilepsy is a chemical imbalance--not impact-oriented. Also, just to note because it's a common misconception, but seizures caused by flashing lights don't happen with all Epileptics. It's called Photosensitive Epilepsy, and it sounds like he doesn't have that either (not that strobe lights are part of your WODs). Your guy SEEMS to be stable based on what he's telling you but you need to be certain he takes meds and find out how recently he's had a seizure and what he's done about it, etc.

Also..I do not (and have never) drink alcohol or use any kind of recreational drug or otherwise mood-altering substance (aside from coffee, which is safe). These substances affect the function of the meds (and lots of other meds for lots of other ailments), thereby lowering the seizure threshold. Drinking once in a while isn't gonna cause him problems, but if he drinks regularly (daily) he might not be worth the risk. Ask him a few questions. He sounds fine to me though. At 30, he should know himself well.

That's all I've got for this post. Any questions, just ask and I'll do my best.
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