Neuroscientific Context

Background Research

Analysis of media item

Criticism of media item:

In giving an unbiased account it would be important to detail the severity of Klaerner’s condition, and it does specify that he experienced frequent seizures sometimes multiple times a day. One or two isolated seizures in a person’s lifetime is not enough to warrant a diagnosis of epilepsy, in the U.S. 7-10% of the adult population have a seizure at least once (Bear, Connors, Paradiso, 2007, p. 593). Ongoing seizures, even quite sparse ones, are characteristic of epilepsy. The article does take care to shed some light on Klaerner’s medical history, showing that his seizure was not an isolated event and in fact there had been a history of car accidents attributed to his condition.

The article’s treatment of the facts about epilepsy is fair as it takes some care to specify and describe the form of epilepsy that Klearner suffers from and the seizures that this produces. These are generalised tonic-clonic seizures which are characterised by a loss of consciousness followed by oscillations between ongoing (tonic) and rhythmic (clonic) muscle activity (Bear, Connors, Paradiso, 2007, p. 593). It is important to point out that this sort of motor activity can become a hazard when operating a vehicle as the driver may unwittingly cause the car to accelerate or decelerate. The article does however fail to point out that suspension from driving is one of a number of factors negatively impacting quality of life for epilepsy sufferers (Bishop, 2003). The article does paint a picture of Klaerner as careless for driving with his condition, however it also mentions that he feels remorse for what happened. Detailing the negative social impacts of epilepsy would be an important fact to consider when taking into account why this man may have chosen to ignore his doctor’s recommendations not to drive. Doing so would not justify Klaerner’s actions but would serve to give a more complete picture as well as placing his behaviour in the context of his condition.

One of the major shortcomings of this article is the total lack of reference to any sort of scientific papers or experts. In interpreting facts for the layperson it is important to show evidence of research as well as giving the informed opinions of medical professionals. Lack of care in doing this may be an indication of the target audience for the article however such an omission is bad practice especially when dealing with medical facts relevant to a court case.

Bear M., Connors B., Paradiso M. (2007). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain. (3rd Ed.)
Bishop, M. (2003) The impact of epilepsy on quality of life: a qualitative analysis.Epilepsy & Behaviour 4(3): 226–233