Epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system resulting in seizures that may have no apparent cause and that happen more than once. More than half the time, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. When the cause can be determined, it is most often due to head injury, infections or a tumor in the brain, a stroke, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, substance abuse or hereditary factors. About 50 percent of children outgrow their epilepsy by the time they become adults.
The number of individuals with epilepsy in New York State is unknown. Most studies suggest that slightly fewer than one percent of the population has epilepsy, which means that nearly 180,000 people living in New York have epilepsy. People who are developmentally disabled are more likely to have epilepsy. Approximately 9,000 New Yorkers are newly-diagnosed with epilepsy each year.