Physical activity in children/teens with epilepsy compared with that in their siblings without epilepsy

Judy Wong, Elaine Wirrell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine (a) whether children and teens with epilepsy participate in less physical activity and have higher body mass index (BMI) percentiles for age than do their siblings without epilepsy; and (b) what epilepsy-specific factors limit their participation. Methods: Patients 5-17 years, with a ≥3 month history of epilepsy, a development quotient ≥80, no major motor or sensory impairments, and at least one sibling without epilepsy in a similar age range, were identified from the Neurology Clinic database or at the time of clinic visit. Parents completed a questionnaire regarding sedentary activities and group, individual, and total sports activities. Children aged 11-15 years also completed the physical activity portion of the Health Behavior in School Aged Children questionnaire. Clinic charts were reviewed for seizure type, etiology, frequency, duration of epilepsy, and number of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) ever taken. Results: Teens with epilepsy participated in fewer group and total sports activities than did controls and were more likely to be potentially overweight or overweight. Receiving three or more AEDs in the past showed a significant negative correlation with sports participation. Although a trend was noted for those with higher seizure frequency to be less active, no other epilepsy-specific factors or prior seizures or seizure-related injury during a sports event correlated with participation in physical activity. Conclusions: Programs that promote exercise in adolescents with epilepsy should be encouraged to improve their physical, psychological, and social well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-639
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Overweight
  • Physical activity
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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