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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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What is Epilepsy?

Contact the Epilepsy Program

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that from time to time produces brief disturbances in the normal electrical functions of the brain.

Normal brain function is made possible by millions of tiny electrical charges passing between nerve cells in the brain and to all parts of the body. When someone has epilepsy, this normal pattern may be interrupted by intermittent bursts of electrical energy that are much more intense than usual. They may affect a person's consciousness, bodily movements or sensations for a short time.

These physical changes are called epileptic seizures. That is why epilepsy is sometimes called a seizure disorder. The unusual bursts of energy may occur in just one area of the brain (partial seizures), or may affect nerve cells throughout the brain (generalized seizures). Normal brain function cannot return until the electrical bursts subside. Conditions in the brain that produce these episodes may have been present since birth, or they may develop later in life due to injury, infections, structural abnormalities in the brain, exposure to toxic agents, or for reasons that are still not well understood. Many illnesses or severe injuries can affect the brain enough to produce a single seizure. When seizures continue to occur for unknown reasons or because of an underlying problem that cannot be corrected, the condition is known as epilepsy. Epilepsy affects people of all ages, all nations, and all races.

Epilepsy Services Program

The Epilepsy Services Program (ESP) has a broad statutory mandate to provide client services for the care and treatment of persons with epilepsy, to provide educational programs regarding epilepsy, and to promote the prevention of epilepsy.  Client services consist of case management and medical care for all clients. 

The client services component of the program is supported by a specific appropriation of general revenue funds.  Revenue for epilepsy prevention and education is derived from the Epilepsy Services Trust Fund.  The ESP is implemented statewide through six contracted service providers with both fiscal and administrative responsibility.  Each Florida Department of Health (DOH) contract is managed by the ESP Manager in Tallahassee. 

The DOH administers the Antiepileptic Drug Program for low-income Floridians, providing commonly prescribed medications for epilepsy through the central pharmacy and county health departments.  The ESP aims to improve the quality of life and productivity of Floridians with epilepsy by providing services to maximize seizure control, education to eliminate the stigma of epilepsy, and awareness to prevent injuries that may lead to epilepsy.