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Video Game Induced Seizures – A Mother’s Story
Raising a child with special needs is difficult, but rewarding. Being the mother of a son diagnosed with epilepsy has been both emotional and physical challenges, but being able to stay home with him is a special gift from God. Seizures cause the body to stiffen and shake, often resulting in physical exhaustion after the seizure has passed. My 14 year old son started having seizures when he was 7 while playing a video game on Nintendo – the first version.
I remember the first seizure. I was sitting on the bed and he was in the bedroom playing 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, “Mommy, I see spots.” Well, I thought maybe it was just for the game and told him to sit on my bed. I noticed that his neck was turning to the right and so were his eyes. His eyes were fixed deep inside the sockets and his body began to stiffen. He could still hear my voice so I told him to try to go to the bathroom.
I held his arm long enough for him to go to the bathroom. Then she started shaking and her knees buckled. MY GOD! I couldn’t believe what was happening. I absolutely screamed for her father to come quickly. His father called 911 when I started praying, “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 paramedic came and put an IV in his arm. By the time we were 1/2 way through, she came out of her seizure and started talking like nothing happened. That was the weirdest. At the hospital, they ran a series of tests to see if she had any tumors or growths that could be causing her seizures, but nothing was found.
It was determined that the game and the flashing light of the television caused the seizure.
In the early 1990s, Nintendo USA issued a warning that video games could cause seizures, noting that this could occur in children with epilepsy. But the game warnings came after the game he was playing was created. Did Nintendo know about this? That’s a good question. In China, a Pokemon series caused hundreds of people to flood emergency rooms with seizures at once. The point is that the games and shows had a flashing light that occurred at certain intervals with the purpose of stimulating the player/viewer’s brain.
This blinking causes the pupil to open at irregular intervals, causing neurons in the brain to misfire. When this happens, a seizure occurs. Diagnosing epilepsy after a photonic seizure is almost impossible, but here’s the thing: the first seizure can trigger epilepsy, and more seizures occur.
After the first seizure, my son has at least 2 seizures a year. I never knew when they would happen, but I limited my exposure to flashing lights, banned all video games, wore protective sunglasses, and swerved when police lights were on, etc.
I am constantly worried that he will have a seizure, but I am proud that my life allows me to be at home with him.
Today I stay home and design websites and do social media marketing because I want to be with him while he is sick. If you have children who like to play older video games, please limit their time and seat them away from the screen. Older televisions have the same screen flickering.
Lots of love.
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