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In 1992, Susan Filstead and her husband, Bill, were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child. Then, unexpectedly, the 38-year-old woman suffered a life-threatening stroke the morning after Matthew was born. As a result, the new mother lost the use of her left hand and leg, and subsequent treatment for a brain abscess caused recurrent seizures.

Eight years later, Susan now walks with a cane or uses a wheelchair for long distances. Her seizures continue daily and have not responded to surgical or drug treatment.

"A striking number of stroke patients suffer from epilepsy," explains Dr. Jose Biller, Susan's neurologist at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. "Stroke is the number-one cause of epilepsy in people past the age of 50."

To increase public awareness of stroke and epilepsy and to improve the quality of care for people who live with the conditions, the family has created the Susan Eik Filstead Stroke and Epilepsy Foundation. Its mission: a cure for epilepsy and the reversal of damage caused by stroke.

"The motivation behind it was my son," explains Susan. "I want to show him that we would try to make a difference. We can't change the way things are in our life, but we can try to make it better."

The two-year-old foundation has already given funds to Indiana University to provide epilepsy medications to people unable to afford them. For more information or to purchase a "day-in-the-life" video produced by the Filsteads, visit the Susan Eik Filstead Stroke & Epilepsy Foundation Web site at
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Title; creation of the Susan Eik Filstead Stroke and Epilepsy Foundation to help improve the quality of care for stroke patients
Publication:Medical Update
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001

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