Rowing and Epilepsy

Guidance from the British Rowing Medical Panel on Rowing and Epilepsy.

Rowers, coaches (driving launches) and coxswains with epilepsy should not be allowed on the water when there is a possibility of further seizures placing themselves and others at significant risk.

In line with the recommendations of the DVLA, this period of significant risk is defined as within one year following a seizure, and for six months whilst reducing medication or stopping medication. In these cases, where there is significant risk of further seizures, rowers, coaches (driving launches) and coxswains should not be allowed on the water, except where there is a special individualised risk assessment of the individual and the event.

Asleep seizures (nocturnal seizures) are seizures that occur whilst falling asleep, when asleep, or on waking up.  Rowers, launch drivers and coxswains who have an asleep seizure should not row, drive a launch or cox until they are seizure-free for one year.  Those who continue to have only asleep seizures should contact their General Practitioner or medical specialist to be assessed as to their suitability to row, drive a launch or cox.

In certain circumstances awake seizures may not affect consciousness, attention and the ability to act in any situation, nor cause any functional impairment.  Rowers, launch drivers and coxswains who have awake seizures where they:

  • remain fully conscious during the seizures;
  • the seizures do not impair or stop the individual functioning normally;
  • have only ever had awake seizures;
  • have never had a seizure that affects their consciousness, attention and ability to act in any situation;

may be permitted to row or cox following medical review.

Clubs and rowing facilities should be informed that:

  • an individual has had epilepsy
  • a suitable period of time has elapsed since the last seizure
  • medical consultation has taken place

The club/rowing facility should risk assess the situation and develop an action plan with the individual to manage a seizure, with appropriate medical advice where required.

There is no restriction to indoor rowing.  Clubs and rowing facility should be made aware of the possibility of seizures in an individual.  The club/rowing facility should risk assess the situation and develop an action plan with the individual to manage a seizure.

British Rowing Medical Panel, December 2018

 

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