New Resources to Educate High School Students about “Brain Matters”


For Immediate Release:

December 10, 2010

LONDON, Ontario - Today, the Hon. Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long Term Care, joined the Epilepsy Support Centre (London) and London Health Sciences Centre’s Epilepsy Program as they launched Brain Matters: An Introduction to Neuroscience.

The Brain Matters resource and DVD will be used in high schools across Ontario to teach students in grade 12 academic-level biology classes about seizures and epilepsy. Having seen considerable success as a pilot program in four Ontario school boards, the Brain Matters resource is now being rolled out across the province to address stigma and lack of knowledge surrounding epilepsy among youth, and to inspire future generations of healthcare professionals to consider a career in neurology.

"The Brain Matters resource was developed at the request of the families that the Epilepsy Support Centre serves, many of whom are living with drug-resistant seizures,” says Mary Secco, executive director, Epilepsy Support Centre. “These families have found many people do not understand the impact epilepsy has on their family. By educating Ontario youth, we are working to address this knowledge gap.”

"At the London BIOlympics I worked with students using this unit,” says Deb Matthews MPP, London North Centre. "I'm delighted that our government, through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, has invested in this project to help kids better understand this disorder. This program will go a long way to dispelling the myths and reducing the stigma associated with epilepsy."

Epilepsy is the second most common neurological condition after headache, affecting 300,000 Canadians. The Epilepsy Program at LHSC’s University Hospital sees patients from across Ontario and other provinces, treating over 850 new patients per year and providing follow-up care to over 2,500 patients per year.

”As a clinician, I am pleased to have been a part of developing Brain Matters as, on a daily basis, I see the great need for innovation for care and treatment within the epilepsy community,” says Dr. Jorge Burneo, editor of Brain Matters and neurologist, LHSC. “Thirty per cent of epilepsy patients are living with uncontrolled seizures. For this group, Brain Matters is the first step in investing in future generations of researchers and healthcare providers.”

Mary McDonald is a teacher and the mother of a child with a genetic condition that predisposes her to frequent, severe, drug-resistant seizures. “We’ve been fortunate to have access to LHSC’s Epilepsy Program. Research and genetic testing have all contributed to a diagnosis of our daughter’s condition and pointed the way toward the optimal treatment for her. But she still faces stigma. Many people feel fear when they see her have a seizure. As a teacher, I know that education for our community is the best way to ensure that our daughter and other children like her are treated with dignity and provided with opportunities to thrive.”

Distribution of the Brain Matters resource to Ontario schools is funded by an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant. Ontario teachers can acquire the facilitator’s manual and companion DVD by contacting their local epilepsy organization at 1-866-EPILEPSY. The chief goals of the resource are to raise awareness and increase knowledge of epilepsy, to teach seizure first aid and to encourage career exploration in the neurological health sciences. To help Grade 12 teachers use the resource, the Epilepsy Support Centre in London will provide professional development sessions for secondary teachers throughout the province.

About the Epilepsy Support Centre
The Epilepsy Support Centre is a non-profit United Way funded organization that is specifically concerned with the non-medical welfare of people with epilepsy. Its goal is to enable people with epilepsy to fully participate in all aspects of community life. Services are available in London-Middlesex, Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent, Oxford, Elgin and Windsor-Essex counties. For more information, please visit

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 135 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph’s Health Care, London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information, visit

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For more information on the Brain Matters program, please contact:

Dita Kuhtey Valerie Josic
Cohn & Wolfe Cohn & Wolfe
416-924-5700, ext. 4032 416-924-5700, ext. 4076

For LHSC media inquiries, please contact:
Rachelle Wood, Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 77642

After-hours assistance:
Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communication consultant on-call