Epilepsy – Driving and Recreation

Epilepsy and Driving

Most states and the District of Columbia will not issue a driver's license to someone with epilepsy unless the person can document that she/he has been seizure-free for a specific amount of time (the waiting period varies from a few months to several years). Some states make exceptions for this policy when seizures don't impair consciousness, occur only during sleep, or have long auras or other warning signs that allow the person to avoid driving when a seizure is likely to occur. Studies show that the risk of having a seizure-related accident decreases as the length of time since the last seizure increases. Commercial drivers’ licenses have additional restrictions. In addition, people with epilepsy should take extra care if a job involves operation of machinery or vehicles.

Epilepsy and Recreation

The risk of seizures also limits people's recreational choices. Individuals may need to take precautions with activities such as climbing, sailing, swimming, or working on ladders. Studies have not shown any increase in seizures due to sports, although these studies have not focused on any activity in particular. There is some evidence that regular exercise may improve seizure control in some people, but this should be done under a doctor’s supervision. The benefits of sports participation may outweigh the risks and coaches or other leaders can take appropriate safety precautions. Steps should be taken to avoid dehydration, overexertion, and hypoglycemia, as these problems can increase the risk of seizure.

Reference: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Last updated May 3, 2017

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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