Creating a Ripple Effect: Amplifying the Experiences of People with Epilepsy Through Authentic Marketing and Communications

June 30, 2022 Ashley Flowers

At Hatcher, we strive to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities. As a Senior Associate at the firm, this work takes on new meaning for me as I strive to gain acceptance and support for those diagnosed with epilepsy.

As the fourth most common neurological disorder, epilepsy is typically diagnosed in children and adults over the age of 65, but it can occur at any time in life. Given that nearly 3 million Americans have epilepsy, it’s surprising that epilepsy funding and research still stagger behind other neurological disorders. The National Institutes of Health report that among six of the most common neurological disorders — Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and stroke — epilepsy research is funded at a persistently lower rate based on relative disease prevalence.

Some facts about epilepsy, as provided by the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • One in 26 individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease (3.4 million nationwide).
  • Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.
  • The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than the general population.
  • It’s estimated that up to 70% of people living with epilepsy could live seizure-free if properly diagnosed and treated.

In 2020, I launched Warrior Footprints, a platform that offers a safe space for people with epilepsy and their families. Through Warrior Footprints’ Instagram, people share their fears and experiences and feel free to ask questions. While still in the early stages, the site has already hosted more than 40 live interviews with individuals who either live with or are affected by epilepsy. It covers topics like living with epilepsy in college, access to proper care, treatments, and alternative ways to manage the condition and triggers. As it expands, I hope to collaborate with larger epilepsy-related organizations and engage with a wider audience.

Like my work at Hatcher, I’ve harnessed the power of social media as an advocacy tool. Through Warrior Footprints, I gather media contacts to reach multiple audiences; create virtual support groups with followers; provide research updates; and have a platform to fight for equity within the epilepsy community.

Accessible and affordable treatment for epilepsy remains a barrier for many dealing with the disorder. Socioeconomic factors like gender, age, race, and income level often contribute to the lack of equitable care. Much like Hatcher’s advocacy work with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society— to influence federal policy so people living with MS can access the treatments and resources they need — Warrior Footprints, too, is working to educate and engage stakeholders about epilepsy treatment. I’m currently working with delegates and advocacy groups in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area to take action on epilepsy care affordability and implement mandatory Seizure First Aid programs in schools throughout the DMV.

Now that I’m nearly eight years seizure-free and, recognizing the immense power marketing and communications have in making a difference for those in need, I’ve become more active in my advocacy and more determined to empower other Epilepsy Warriors.