European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 178, Issue 10, pp 1485–1491 | Cite as

Epilepsy: knowledge and attitudes of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists

  • Katharina Hackel
  • Martina Patrizia Neininger
  • Wieland Kiess
  • Thilo Bertsche
  • Astrid BertscheEmail author
Original Article


Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists play a key role in the treatment of children with epilepsy. We performed a survey of therapists’ knowledge of and attitudes towards epilepsy in two regions of Germany, the city of Leipzig and the rural district of Zwickau. Therapists of 29/68 (43%) outpatient practices and 4/9 (44%) hospitals took part. In total, 195 therapists participated: 63 (32%) physiotherapists, 74 (38%) occupational therapists, and 58 (30%) speech therapist. In 65%, epilepsy was subject of vocational training. Of all therapists, 8% claimed they had not treated epilepsy patients so far. During professional life, 43% had witnessed a seizure. Of all therapists, 44% correctly assumed a seizure could result in death. During a seizure, 42% would perform the obsolete measure of placing something solid in the patient’s mouth, and 41% would administer a prescribed rescue medication. More information on epilepsy was requested by 92%.

Conclusion: Most therapists treat patients with epilepsy, and almost half have already witnessed a seizure. Often, however, epilepsy is not subject of vocational training. The risk of a fatal outcome of a seizure is underestimated, and many therapists would perform obsolete measures. Knowledge of seizure management should be transmitted to therapists especially during vocational training.


Physiotherapists Occupational therapists Speech therapists Epilepsy Seizure Emergency management 



occupational therapists




speech therapists



We thank all the participating therapists for taking their time to answer our survey. Additionally, we thank Lena Schrader for language editing of the manuscript.

Authors’ contributions

Katharina Hackel designed the study protocol, developed the questionnaire, performed the questionnaire survey, the statistical analysis, and the interpretation of the data, and wrote the manuscript.

Martina P. Neininger was involved in the development of the questionnaire, performed the statistical analysis and the interpretation of the data, and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript.

Wieland Kiess supported the development of the questionnaire, and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript.

Thilo Bertsche was involved in the development of the study protocol and the questionnaire, was involved the interpretation of data, and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript.

Astrid Bertsche designed the study protocol, was involved in the development of the questionnaire, supervised the questionnaire survey, the recruitment of participants, and the statistical analysis, performed the interpretation of data, and wrote the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical statements

Conflict of interest

A. Bertsche reports grants from UCB Pharma GmbH and honoraria for speaking engagements from Desitin Arzneimittel GmbH, Eisai GmbH, ViroPharma Incorporated, and Shire Deutschland GmbH. The other authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study described has been carried out in accordance with abovementioned standards and has been approved by the institutional ethics committee.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

431_2019_3437_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharina Hackel
    • 1
  • Martina Patrizia Neininger
    • 2
  • Wieland Kiess
    • 1
  • Thilo Bertsche
    • 2
  • Astrid Bertsche
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Centre for Paediatric ResearchUniversity Hospital for Children and AdolescentsLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Drug Safety Center and Department of Clinical PharmacyLeipzig UniversityLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.University Hospital for Children and Adolescents, NeuropaediatricsRostockGermany

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