TRENTON — For 48 years they were an affiliate of the National Epilepsy Foundation, but as of July, a group now re-branded as Epilepsy Services of New Jersey is setting out on its own.

The organization provides education and special events, and offers ways to break the stigma associated with a disorder that affects 1 in 26 people.

"Our mission isn't changing, our dedication to the people of New Jersey with epilepsy isn't changing, it's really just a name change. So our name is changing, but our commitment isn't," said Andrea Racioppi, vice president of epilepsy services. "We're still going to provide the same programs and services, and information and referrals, and assistance to people with epilepsy and their loved ones in New Jersey."

Some of those special events include an upcoming day at the beach at the governor's state vacation house on Island Beach State Park, and a benefit concert every March at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

As far as the education aspect, teaching convulsive seizure first aid is a large part, and Racioppi said it is not difficult to learn, even for school-age students. In fact, it can be boiled down to a simple acronym: TRUST.

  • T — turn the person on their side
  • R — remove all objects
  • U — use something soft under the person's head
  • S — stay calm and stay with the person
  • T — time the seizure.

If a seizure lasts more than five minutes, it is a medical emergency. But be aware that not all seizures are convulsive, and just because a person has epilepsy does not mean they will have seizures of this nature.

Epilepsy Services of New Jersey has four offices, in Trenton/Hamilton, Barrington, Brick, and Parsippany, and serves people and families statewide. Visit epilepsyservicesnj.org, call 1-800-336-5843, or follow them on Facebook for more information.

Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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