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15:43 PM

Does Incredibles 2 Cause Seizures?

Why some parents of children with epilepsy are concerned about new Disney blockbuster

“The Incredibles 2” scored the biggest domestic debut ever for an animated movie, making more than $180 million since its release on June 15. With a 14-year hiatus between the original and the sequel, audiences were more than eager to see the Parr family back in action.

But not everyone at the movie has had a good time.

Shortly after the initial release of the hit Disney movie, movie patrons began to speak out about several scenes in the film during which a villain uses a weapon designed to disorient people. The scenes feature a bright, flashing strobe effect, lasting for up to 90 seconds.

By Saturday, June 16, social media was lit up with movie-goers’ red flags about the long-awaited sequel. Many reviews and comments on the film consisted of alerts to those with epilepsy about the potential danger of seeing the film. These warnings include a memo from the Epilepsy Foundation of America stating:

“To avoid any serious medical incidents, the Epilepsy Foundation is requesting that Disney Pixar post a warning on all its digital properties, including relevant websites and social media channels, about what has been described as "flashing" and "strobe" lights in its "Incredibles 2" movie. There should be a warning of the potential effects on people with visual sensitive epilepsy or migraine features.”

These concerns stem from the knowledge that for a portion of people with epilepsy, photic sensitivity (a severe sensitivity to lights, especially flashing ones) can trigger seizures.

Photosensitive epilepsy is more common amongst children and adolescents, making parents even more concerned about the new summer blockbuster.

Disney released an advisory on Friday, June 15, to movie theaters asking them to post informative warnings about the film at the entrances of their establishments:

"Incredibles 2 contains a sequence of flashing lights which may affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or other photo sensitivities."

Are my children at risk?

“What parents should know is that even if your child has epilepsy, not all patients with epilepsy will be photic sensitive,” said Scott Perry, M.D., medical director of Neurology at Cook Children’s.

The Epilepsy Foundation of America states that only 3 percent of patients with epilepsy will experience seizures caused by photic sensitivity.

“This is an individual issue. Just like one person might have a more severe reaction to a bee sting than another person, someone may have more of a reaction to this film,” Dr. Perry said. “Not everyone is going to experience adverse effects from this movie.”

For parents of children with epilepsy, Dr. Perry warns that “every patient with epilepsy has triggers, and they can show up in unexpected places. The best way to make sure your child is safe is to talk with your neurologist and make sure that in the case of a seizure, someone with your child knows what to do.”

- Article by Rylie Steppick

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Get to know M. Scott Perry, M.D.

I joined the Neurosciences Program of Cook Children's in 2009 as a pediatric epileptologist, then served as the Medical Director of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex clinic before assuming the role of Medical Director of Neurology in 2016. My clinical and research interests focus on the treatment of childhood onset epilepsy, specifically those patients with uncontrolled epilepsy or those for which the cause has not been determined. I have an intense interest in the use of surgical therapies to treat and cure epilepsy. The majority of my research has investigated the use of multimodal imaging techniques to localize seizure onset, as well as the description of patient and disease characteristics that predict favorable outcomes from surgical therapies. The pool of candidates which may benefit from surgical therapy continues to expand and I came to Cook Children's specifically because the staff of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Comprehensive Epilepsy Program were dedicated to improving the care of children with epilepsy through cutting-edge techniques, research, and concern for their patients' well-being. Click to learn more.



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