Supporting children and young people with encephalitis
Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain, which can be caused by a viral infection or an auto-immune response. The symptoms of encephalitis varies according to which part of the brain is affected so this can make diagnosis difficult. Symptoms can frequently begin with a headache, vomiting or flu-like illness, and rapidly progress into seizures, sensory changes, inability to move or speak. Encephalitis can progress to loss of consciousness, coma and death. People who recover from encephalitis can go on to have greater memory problems, in comparison to people with other types of brain injuries.
Although encephalitis is considered to be a rare condition, the number of people with encephalitis is increasing. In 2013 Public Health England reported up to 6,000 new cases each year in England alone. Although anyone can develop encephalitis, children are particularly vulnerable to developing encephalitis (as are the elderly) because their immune system tends to be weaker.
That's why Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity is working in partnership with the Encephalitis Society to create two new e-learning modules about encephalitis. Whilst e-learning exists in other neurology charities, nothing similar exists for encephalitis.
The first module will be to explain encephalitis to children and young people who are affected by the condition. The second module will be tailored for parents and explore the consequences of encephalitis for themselves and their child. It will offer suggested solutions to common problems, and advise how to develop a strong support network.
The two modules will overlap by encouraging children and young people, and their parents, to consider each other's perspective. The access to the e-learning modules will be freely available and any child or family affected by encephalitis will be able to use them.