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Dravet Syndrome—The Polish Family’s Perspective Study

Aim: The aim of the paper is to study the prevalence of Dravet Syndrome (DS) in the Polish population and indicate different factors other than seizures reducing the quality of life in such patients. Method: A survey was conducted among caregivers of patients with DS by the members of the Polish support group of the Association for People with Severe Refractory Epilepsy DRAVET.PL. It included their experience of the diagnosis, seizures, and treatment-related adverse effects. The caregivers also completed the PedsQL survey, which showed the most important problems. The survey received 55 responses from caregivers of patients with DS (aged 2–25 years). Results: Prior to the diagnosis of DS, 85% of patients presented with status epilepticus lasting more than 30 min, and the frequency of seizures (mostly tonic-clonic or hemiconvulsions) ranged from 2 per week to hundreds per day. After the diagnosis of DS, patients remained on polytherapy (drugs recommended in DS). Before diagnosis, some of them had been on sodium channel blockers. Most patients experienced many adverse effects, including aggression and loss of appetite. The frequency of adverse effects was related to the number of drugs used in this therapy, which had an impact on the results of the PedsQL form, particularly in terms of the physical and social spheres. Intensive care unit stays due to severe status epilepticus also had an influence on the results of the PedsQL form. Conclusions: Families must be counseled on non-pharmacologic strategies to reduce seizure risk, including avoidance of triggers that commonly induce seizures (including hyperthermia, flashing lights and patterns, sleep abnormalities). In addition to addressing seizures, holistic care for a patient with Dravet syndrome must involve a multidisciplinary team that includes specialists in physical, occupational and speech therapy, neuropsychology, social work.

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