The objective of this study was to determine the physical literacy (the motivation, confidence, physical competence, and knowledge contributing to the capacity for physical activity) of children with epilepsy, as compared with that of their healthy peers.
Patients age 8–12 years with epilepsy, without any disabilities interfering with their ability to answer questionnaires and perform vigorous physical activity, were recruited from the Neurology Clinic at the time of visits. They completed the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy (CAPL), a comprehensive battery of tests reflecting the primary domains of physical literacy (motivation/confidence, physical competence, knowledge/understanding, and daily behavior). Daily behavior was assessed by pedometer step counts, as well as self-reported moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and screen time. Physical competence included agility and movement skill measures as well as physical fitness. Children with epilepsy were matched with healthy peers from a large research database of over 6000 Canadian children.
We tested 35 children with epilepsy, divided into those with presumed self-limiting forms of epilepsy (49%) and those with chronic disease (51%). Only a small proportion of participants (23%) were taking more than one antiepileptic medication, and only one patient was taking three anticonvulsants. Children with epilepsy including those with self-limiting forms had significantly lower total physical literacy scores, lower agility and movement skills, and lower muscular endurance, and reported more screen time than their healthy peers. Only 11% of the children with epilepsy achieved the recommended level of physical literacy. However, the children with epilepsy were knowledgeable about and highly motivated to participate in a physically active lifestyle.
Children with epilepsy demonstrate poor physical literacy levels, with potential immediate and long-lasting negative impacts on general health and psychosocial well-being. Programs promoting physical literacy in children with epilepsy should be encouraged, specifically interventions decreasing screen time and enhancing muscular endurance and motor skills, thereby facilitating healthier lifestyles.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute