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UHN President and CEO Bob Bell.jpg 

UHN President and CEO Bob Bell wants you to wear purple on March 26 to support Purple Day. Tweets us your pics in purple to @UHN_News with the hashtag #PurpleDay and take our Facebook poll (link below). (Photo: UHN)

It's time to break out your purple.

Whether you sport a tie, don a dress or get decked out from head to toe, on Tuesday, March 26, wear a piece of purple to support Purple Day.

Why purple? It's the international colour for epilepsy, a neurological disorder that affects approximately 1 in every 100 Canadians and 50 million people worldwide. March 26 is the nationally dedicated day to raise awareness about the condition.

"Epilepsy is a condition that is still misunderstood," said Rosie Smith, director of adult services at Epilepsy Toronto, an organization that supports those living with epilepsy and is partnering with UHN for Purple Day activities. "Purple Day provides an awesome opportunity to raise awareness and educate the general public about this disorder."

Purple Day began in Canada

Motivated by her own struggle with epilepsy, Purple Day was started by Cassidy Megan, a young girl from Nova Scotia, to increase understanding about the condition. Megan hoped to dispel myths and help those who suffer from seizures feel less isolated.

Last year, the Canadian government recognized Megan's efforts. Parliament voted to pass Bill C-278 – the Purple Act – to officially recognize March 26 as "Purple Day". This year marks the first national Purple Day in Canada.

"Purple Day is really important to increase awareness around epilepsy," said Miu Lin Wong, Health Promotion Coordinator at UHN's Toronto Western Hospital.

"I am so touched by the challenges of people living with epilepsy and by their families," she said, noting she would be wearing a purple wig to show her support on the 26th. "We need to continue our efforts to increase awareness and educate the public about this disorder."

The reality of epilepsy

Epilepsy, and the seizures that define this disorder, comes in many forms.

Seizures can range from what is medically known as absence– seizures which last roughly 20 seconds and impair consciousness– to tonic-clonic, also referred to as a grand mal seizure. This type of seizure affects the entire brain, causes a person to lose consciousness and have convulsions.

Although medications exist to help patients manage their seizures, only 70 per cent of people with epilepsy respond to medication. Of the remaining 30 per cent, half are candidates for brain surgery, but the remaining 15 per cent have no treatment options to stop their seizures.

Impossible to work, drive

Most of these people are unable to work, cannot drive and a serious toll is taken on their personal relationships. It's why research is needed to develop new treatments and approaches to help these patients.

"People affected by epilepsy have one of the lowest quality of life among those suffering from chronic diseases, mainly due to stigma from lack of public knowledge," said Alina Shcharinsky, a nurse practitioner in functional neurosurgery who works with epilepsy patients.

"Purple Day provides a good opportunity to raise the general public's awareness about epilepsy and the very real issues faced by those living with the condition," she said.

Jan Newton, clinical director of the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital, home of UHN's epilepsy program, joked that she is "always happy for an excuse to shop" and said, "I encourage people to wear purple to show support for our patients and their families."

Show – and Tweet us— your purple

Be part of UHN's support for epilepsy by wearing purple on Tuesday, March 26. Take pics of your Purple Day gear and Tweet them to @UHN with the hashtag #PurpleDay. We'll feature your purple pics on UHN's Facebook page, Facebook.com/UniversityHealthNetwork, where you can also take our epilepsy poll question.

Staff, patients and visitors are also invited to stop by the info booths to enjoy a variety of purple inspired baked goods, games and prizes.

Each UHN site will host tables with information about epilepsy– we hope you stop by! The tables will be set up from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Toronto General Hospital (Eaton Lobby)
  • Toronto Western Hospital (Atrium)
  • Princess Margaret Hospital (Main floor Atrium)
  • Toronto Rehab's Lyndhurst Centre (Main Physiotherapy Gym)
  • For more information on epilepsy and Purple Day visit www.epilepsytoronto.org or www.purpleday.org

Related:
Answer our Purple Day Facebook poll question
Brain surgery gives hope to CBC producer with epilepsy
UHN patient, experts featured in Global Toronto epilepsy series

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