The US Open golf tournament returned to our screens – but how can people with epilepsy get involved in the sport? Golf is one of the most popular sports to watch in America, and 24 million people actively play it on a regular basis.
Many people with epilepsy watch and play golf – both at an amateur and a professional level. If you have a passion for golf, here’s everything you need to know about epilepsy and the sport.
There’s a strong community around golfers with epilepsy
With millions of people playing golf every week in the US, it’s no surprise that there are many players with epilepsy too. Perhaps the best known, however, is Floridian Jeff Klauk. Born in 1977, Klauk has participated in the PGA and Web.com tours and has played professionally since 2000, winning Nationwide Tours in 2003 and 2008.
Klauk was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2006 after having a tonic-clonic seizure while on tour at the Knoxville Open in Tennessee. Since his diagnosis, Klauk has regularly worked as an ambassador for Athletes Vs Epilepsy, taking part in events to raise awareness and money for epilepsy charities.
Right across the States, local Epilepsy Foundation groups frequently organize golf fundraisers too – which are a great opportunity to get involved in the sport while promoting epilepsy awareness. Similarly, Epilepsy Golf holds a fundraising competition every year in San Antonio, Texas.
Playing golf with epilepsy
If you are interested in taking up a new sport like golf, it’s always a good idea to speak with your physician or epilepsy treatment team for medical advice. That said, golf is generally regarded as one of the safest sports for people with epilepsy to play.
In 2015 the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) proposed a new safety framework for participating in different sports with different categories of risk level. Golf was classified as a sport with ‘no significant additional risk’ either for people with epilepsy or any bystanders.
In fact, some research suggests that participating in light exercise could actually help improve seizure control. Golf is not a high intensity exercise, yet it still involves a significant amount of walking which is great for managing your weight and cardiovascular fitness. It is also good for your general health to spend time outdoors and in the sun.
There are some risk factors to take into account to reduce the risk of having a seizure while playing golf:
- Stay hydrated because dehydration can cause seizures
- Avoid over-exposure to heat (very warm temperatures can be a seizure trigger)
- Wear a seizure bracelet in case you have a seizure on the fairway - this will help your buddies or other golfers know how to help
Hole in one – seizures and golf
Whether you prefer watching golf or playing the sport, it is one of the most popular and accessible activities for people with epilepsy. So, if you’ve been inspired by the US Open golf tournament, perhaps now is the time to head down your local fairway and practice that swing!