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Video Game Induced Seizures – A Mother’s Story
Parenting a special needs child is challenging but rewarding. Being the mother of a son who was diagnosed with epilepsy had challenges both emotional and physical, but being able to stay home with him was a special gift from God. Seizures cause the body to stiffen and shake, often resulting in physical exhaustion after the seizure is over. My 14 year old son started having seizures when he was 7 years old playing a Nintendo video game – the first version.
I remember the first attack he had. I was sitting on the bed and he was in the bedroom playing the Legend of Zelda with his little brother. Joshua was 7 years old at the time. I heard him come into the room and say to me “Mom I see spots”. Well, I thought maybe it was just for playing and told him to sit on my bed. I noticed his neck turn to the right and also his eye. His eyes were fixed deep in their sockets and his body began to stiffen. He still heard my voice so I told him to try to go to the bathroom.
I held his arm long enough for him to walk to the bathroom. Then he shuddered and his knees buckled. OMG! I couldn’t believe what happened. I screamed at the top of my lungs for his father to come quickly. His father called 911 as I began to pray “God please don’t take my baby, please don’t take my son”! I have never experienced anyone having a seizure especially not my child.
The ambulance came and put an IV in his arm. When we were 1/2 way down the road he got out of the grip and started talking like nothing happened. It was the most bizarre thing. At the hospital they ran a series of tests to determine if he had some kind of tumor or growth that might have caused seizure activity, but found nothing.
It was determined that the flickering light of the game and the television caused the abduction.
In the early 1990s Nintendo USA launched a warning that video games could cause seizures and it was noted that this could occur in children who had epileptic tendencies. But the warnings about the games came after the creation of the game he was playing. Was Nintendo aware of this? That’s a good question. In China, a Pokemon series caused 100s of people to flood emergency rooms with seizures at the same time. The point is that the games and the shows had a flickering light that happened at certain intervals for the purpose of stimulating the player/watcher’s brain.
This flickering causes the pupil to open at irregular intervals, thus inducing improper misfiring of the neurons in the brain. Once this happens, a convulsion occurs. Diagnosing epilepsy after a photon induced seizure is almost impossible but here’s the thing – the first seizure can trigger epilepsy and more seizures will occur.
After that first seizure, my son has at least 2 seizures a year. I never knew when they would happen but limited his exposure to flickering light, banned any video games, made him wear protective sunglasses and turn away when there were police lights, etc.
I constantly worry about him having a seizure, but am proud that my life allows me to be home with him.
Today I stay home and work designing websites and doing social media marketing because I want to be with him while he is sick. If you have children who love to play older video games, please make sure you limit their time and make them sit away from the screen. Older TVs have this same screen flickering.
With much love.
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