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12 August 2015

Tribute to man who changed driving rules around epilepsy

Epilepsy Society's medical director Professor Ley Sander has paid tribute to neurologist Dr Michael Espir who has died at the age of 89. In 1967, Dr Espir's influential paper Epilepsy and Driving, published in The Lancet, resulted in people with epilepsy being allowed to drive if their seizures were well controlled.

'When an adult is diagnosed with epilepsy, one of the biggest impacts on their life is often the fact that they are not able to drive until their seizures are totally controlled,' said Professor Sander. 'Prior to Dr Espir's paper, there was a blanket ban on driving for everyone with epilepsy. His work really changed the landscape and offered hope to people with epilepsy.'

Dr Espir's other eminent work included the book Epilepsy and Employment: a medical symposium on current problems and best practices which he co-authored with Jolyon Oxley, a former medical director of Epilepsy Society.

And in 1983 Dr Espir was a member of a Department of Health and Social Security working group on services for people with epilepsy. The resulting paper in 1986 led to improvements in the care of those with the condition.

Professor Sander continued: 'The impact of epilepsy in terms of driving, employment and social issues can be a huge burden for people with epilepsy. Dr Espir understood this well and his legacy is certainly many of the improvements to the lives of people with the condition that we have seen in the last 60 years.'

Dr Michael Espir's obituary (opens in a new window).

Read about the driving regulations for people with epilepsy.