Literature Review

Specialty Group Outlines Pros and Cons of Involvement in Sports for People With Epilepsy

The International League Against Epilepsy’s consensus paper divides sports into 3 risk groups and offers recommendations for each.


In an attempt to protect patients with epilepsy from harm, clinicians and relatives sometimes take an overcautious view and advise them to avoid sports and exercise. A recent consensus paper from the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Task Force on Sports and Epilepsy provides a more objective evaluation of the benefits and risks of exercise in this patient population, offering suggestions on issuing medical fitness certificates in various sports. The consensus paper divides sports into three categories. In group 1, the paper discusses activities that are not associated with any significant risk; category 2 includes sports that incur significant risk to persons with epilepsy but that do not pose a risk to bystanders, while the third group includes major risk factors for both patients and observers. Among the factors that ILAE takes into account when making its recommendations: the type of sport, the likelihood of a seizure occurring during participation, the type and severity of the seizures, and the "usual timing of seizure occurrence."

Capovilla G, Kaufman KR, Perucca E, Moshé SL, Arida RM. Epilepsy, seizures, physical exercise, and sports: A report from the ILAE Task Force on Sports and Epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2016;57(1):6-12.

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