Epilepsy Ireland to fund new study focused on issue of Free Travel

We are delighted to announce that we have approved research funding for a new study which will investigate the societal impact for people with epilepsy of losing a driving license. The research will take place at FutureNeuro, led by Prof. Norman Delanty; Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital and Registrar Dr. Stephen Klaus.

The epilepsy team at St Vincent’s Hospital will also collaborate on the project. We have invested €15,000 in the study which is now underway and will continue throughout 2021. 

The aims of the study include:

  • To examine the societal impact on patients and their families caused by driving restrictions. This will include patients’ views on the restriction, financial impact, perceived social stigma, loss of employment and/or breakdown of personal relationships.
  • To examine alternative transport means utilized by patients during driving restriction including the use of public transportation and patient’s family members.
  • To explore patient’s views on the potential availability of access to the Free Travel Pass scheme.
  • To identify and compare the number of Group 1 and Group 2 drivers within the patient cohort.
  • To identify patients working as taxi drivers, and how they have been affected by driving restrictions.
  • To examine the doctor-patient relationship after the implementation of driving restrictions.

Driving restrictions are a major issue for many people diagnosed with epilepsy in adulthood. Equally, many diagnoised earlier will never hold a licence due to having regular seizures.

This continues to be a major advocacy issue for Epilepsy Ireland. We believe that all people with epilepsy restricted from driving dues to their epilepsy should be provided with access to free travel for the duration the restrictions are in place. We continue to advocate this position to elected representatives and we recently made a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters highlighting this issue.

While we have many personal stories of the impact of losing your licence due to epilepsy, currently there is very little quantitative or qualitative data available in an Irish context on this. We look forward to receiving results from this study which will fill that information gap.

Thank you to all our supporters and donors whose support continues to make our research projects possible. Special thanks to all those who take part in the 'Time For A Break' monthly draw, which directly funds our research grants. Without this support, we would not have been able to fund this project and we are especially grateful for all the support during this extremely difficult period.

We wish Prof. Delanty and Dr Klaus every success with the study and we will share the findings of same as soon as they become available.