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22 December 2017

Professor prescribes ski-ing as new tonic for his patients with epilepsy

An exciting new venture at Epilepsy Society is giving residents with the most complex epilepsy and associated disabilities, the chance to enjoy the freedom and thrill of ski-ing.

Rebecca prepares for a downhill adventure in a sit-ski.

Neurologist Professor Matthias Koepp has been looking after residents at the charity for nearly 20 years, trying to ensure they have the best quality of life by fine tuning their medication and ensuring they have the best possible care.

But now he is hoping to bring a new joy to their lives as he shares his personal passion for ski-ing with his patients.

Enjoying the ride - Rebecca experiences the thrill of ski-ing.

Adaptive snowsports

Professor Koepp is training to be an adaptive snowsport instructor so that he can share the thrill of the slopes with some of the 100 residents at Epilepsy Society.

And as he has been training on the slopes in  Zermatt, in the shadow of Mont Blanc, many of the residents who live in Epilepsy Society's six houses in Buckinghamshire, have been experiencing the joy of ski-ing on the real snow slopes at Hemel Hempstead's Snow Centre.

In training as an adaptive snowsport instructor, Professor Koepp experiences the joy of a sit-ski.

Prof Koepp said: ‘As a neurologist your aim is to give people maximum seizure control with minimum side effects. I try to fine tune our residents’ medication so that they can have the best quality of life possible. But at the end of the day, I cannot cure their epilepsy or take their disability away.

‘I am a passionate skier and have enjoyed many trips to the mountains with my family. There is a wonderful sense of freedom and liberation as you speed down a snow covered mountainside with the cold air cutting your face and a dazzling blue sky above.

Professor Koepp experiences ski-ing for those with visual  and physical impairments.

‘How wonderful would it be for our residents to also enjoy this experience, to leave their disability at the bottom of the slope and enjoy the pure thrill of speed, snow and the whoosh of the mountain air.

‘I am training to be an adaptive snowsport instructor so that I can get on the slopes with our residents and enjoy the thrill of ski-ing together.'

Disability Snowsport UK visited Epilepsy Society recently to give residents a taste of life on the slopes. Professor Koepp continued: 'They were able to transfer from their wheelchairs and enjoy sitting in a sit ski, rolling from side to side for a completely different experience. The joy on their faces was immense.

‘I know that several of our residents have already signed up at Hemel Hempstead’s Snow Centre where they will be able to experience ski-ing on the 160m real snow slope. I cannot wait to join them there and share in their feeling of freedom and excitement.’

Find out more about leisure activities and epilepsy.

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