Epilepsy awareness: Safety tips for children with seizures taking part in swimming, water sports - Evewoman
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Epilepsy awareness: Safety tips for children with seizures taking part in swimming, water sports

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What activities or sports can children with epilepsy do? This question is among many other questions and concerns I get from parents and guardians who take care of Children Living with Epilepsy. Regardless of a child’s condition we always advocate for total inclusion and equal opportunities as they grow up.

However, it’s important to individualize recommendations for children with seizures. Epilepsy can affect each child very differently. A number of factors need to be considered such as:

  • Seizure type and frequency
  • Medication side effects
  • Other medical or developmental problems that affect a child's activity
  • The child's ability to follow instructions and act responsibly
  • The type of activity or exercise
  • Safety precautions or supervision
  • Benefits of exercise and participating in activities

Swimming and Water Sports

Swimming is a pleasure all children should be encouraged to enjoy. Although water poses special dangers for children with seizures, there is usually a way to make this a safer activity for most children. The main question is - how much supervision is needed?  

  • Children with severe or frequent seizures can enjoy the water if a parent or caregiver holds them in a shallow pool or body of water. Wear a life jacket too! 

Children with well-controlled seizures can be encouraged to swim with reasonable safety tips

  • Make sure that at least one person who knows the child has epilepsy and who knows basic lifesaving skills is nearby.
  • Make sure the child knows how to swim. 
  • Depending on the child's health, ability to swim, and amount of available supervision, children with seizures should avoid swimming in deep water.

Tips for children with occasional seizures that affect motor control or awareness. 

  • Supervise the child closely. Seizures are unpredictable and many are difficult to detect. 
  • Encourage swimming only when a lifeguard is on duty who is responsible and aware of the child's disorder, as well as another child in the pool who is the buddy. The lifeguards should know that they must keep their eyes on the pool while the child is swimming.
  • The buddy system (used by many camps for children and by adult scuba divers) is another precaution to keep children safe. The buddy should be responsible, understand the need for keeping an eye on the child, and should never go far away in the pool.

The writer is an Epilepsy Awareness ambassador

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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke

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