According to a study conducted by the University of Saskatchewan, the prevalence of epilepsy among the indigenous population of Canada known as the First Nations people has doubled compared to non-Indigenous people. Figures show that epilepsy rate for First Nations patients is 122 cases per 100,000 versus Canada’s annual rate at 62 cases per 100,000 people.
University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine Professor Jose Tellez-Zenteno was the leader researcher of this study. He states that he couldn’t determine the exact reason for the variance. However, he thinks that the higher rate is linked to traumatic brain injury in Indigenous populations of Canada.
Professor Jose Tellez-Zenteno added: “It’s very well known that some patients who survive a head injury can develop epilepsy later. That would be our main hypothesis, although we cannot rule out other theories.”
The study was composed of a group of neurologists and epidemiologists who analyzed the Saskatchewan Health records from 2005 to 2010 showing data on patients who were hospitalized for epilepsy or had an epilepsy diagnosis.
Tellez-Zenteno disclosed that between 30 to 40 per cent of patients cannot control their epilepsy with medication and need surgery to stop the seizures. He also points out that in Saskatchewan 95 per cent of people getting the surgery are non-Indigenous patients.