SensUs interview: Het Epilepsiefonds
The Dutch Epilepsy Foundation (‘Het Epilepsiefonds’) helps patients by financing scientific research and promoting educational activities. They are a partner of SensUs and we spoke with them about their activities, vision, and goals.
What is Het Epilepsiefonds and what are your main goals?
Het Epilepsiefonds is an organization for everyone who is involved with epilepsy. Our dream is to create solutions for an epilepsy free world. We aim to create ways to control epilepsy and improve the lives of patients. In order to reach this, we financially support research, we promote the interests of people with epilepsy, provide information, and support other educational activities.
The majority of our pursuits are focussed on people with epilepsy. We organize adapted trips that enable patients with epilepsy to travel and enjoy normal holidays. We also bring people together who are coping with a similar situation, for example, via the epilepsy café, a physical meeting place where people with epilepsy can meet and have a drink together.
How do you view the SensUs Student Competition?
We are excited that so many students from all over the world are focusing on this theme! We hope that the ideas generated in this Competition can provide better solutions to control or prevent epileptic attacks. In addition, we hope that this Competition could be an eye-opener for people to improve the understanding of how difficult life with epilepsy can be, and to show the importance of additional research into this disease.
What are the most important changes in the treatment of epilepsy that will occur in the upcoming years?
Treatment options for patients with epilepsy are rapidly expanding. This trend also holds for patients with refractory epilepsy, who have ongoing seizures without response to traditional medication. Several new neuromodulation and surgical techniques are being introduced. Furthermore, genetic testing can yield more and more possibilities to finetune treatments to the individual patient, to further enhance personalized care.
This year, SensUs challenges students from all over the world to develop biosensors that can measure an anti-epileptic drug. How do you think these sensors can help patients with epilepsy?
Sensors can be imagined to monitor treatment (blood levels) as well as brain activity. This can help patients to adapt rapidly to the situation and perhaps prevent imminent seizures.
In what way do treatments of epilepsy differ around the world?
Treatments around the world mainly differ based on available resources. Not all medication types are available everywhere, not all surgical techniques are available everywhere, and so on. This is one of the global challenges the world is facing: the distribution of resources, also concerning treatment.
Finally, what is your advice for the participating Teams?
No idea is too crazy, how crazy that may sound. Support each other in this Competition because the more knowledge we can spread, the greater the impact that can be made! Do not forget to enjoy this amazing experience.