The name epilepsy comes from the Greek for "to be seized." Sudden, spontaneous seizure is the hallmark of this illness. It may involve falling to the ground and twitching spasmodically, but not always.
As the brain goes about its daily functions, millions of electrical and chemical signals pass from its nerve cells out to the body. These electrochemical messages are necessary for almost everything we do and feel. Seizures are a sudden and abnormally high discharge of electrical activity among large numbers of nerve cells in the brain. This can result in involuntary and unusually large signals being sent to the muscles.
Epilepsy is one of the most common disorders of the central nervous system, affecting about 1 in every 250 people in Canada. About a quarter of people with epilepsy in Canada will be diagnosed before the age of 10, and another third by the age of 19. The diagnosis of epilepsy is only made if there have been at least 2 episodes of unprovoked seizures on different days, or 1 episode of unprovoked seizure with a high chance of having another in the next 10 years. Having an "unprovoked" seizure means that there is no apparent trigger.