August 18, 2021

Gaston helps epileptic community during pandemic; finds meaningful ways to give back

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Tyler Gaston squareTyler Gaston, M.D.Tyler Gaston, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurology, found a meaningful way to give back to her patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gaston, who has been published in numerous journals for her work and research on epilepsy, joined the Alabama Professional Advisory Board for the Epilepsy Foundation last summer.

Gaston says her involvement and partnership has given her ways to support her patients and those in the community outside of regular patient visits. Gaston joined the board in the middle of the pandemic, but has been able to work closely with Epilepsy Foundation’s leadership in a digital setting to advocate for epileptic patients.

Originally from Cullman, Alabama, Gaston graduated with Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt, and went to medical school at the University of South Alabama. She has been at UAB since her Neurology residency, and joined faculty after fellowship.

“I chose epilepsy as a specialty as it is a chronic condition which allows me to have close and longstanding relationships with my patients. Also, people with can epilepsy suffer from many other comorbidities, such as mood disorders, cognitive deficits, and side effects from medications. As an epileptologist I am able to follow the patient and address all of these comorbidities.”

As for her work on the board, she says, “I closely work with Epilepsy Foundation Alabama's Executive Director, Sara Franklin, to provide feedback on educational opportunities to those with epilepsy in our state, to help advocate for issues such as Seizure Safe Schools legislation, to celebrate International Epilepsy Day in unique ways, and much more.”

Working with the community and network partners, the Epilepsy Foundation connects the people, data, and resources needed to address challenging health problems associated with seizures and epilepsy.

Executive Director Sara Franklin says, “With the help of our partners, we have made great strides in improving the lives of the millions of people living with the epilepsies. Our partnerships enable us to raise awareness, support research and innovation which brings us closer to new therapies and a cure.”

Franklin also says the foundation advocates for lasting change and works to provide critical education and services in local communities across the country.

Current Epilepsy Foundation efforts include extending offerings to UAB patients, such as the Epilepsy Foundation's 24/7 Helpline, Epilepsy and seizure training, Advocacy, Kids Crew, Webinars and Facebook Live Education Sessions, Physician and Healthcare Team Education, and more.

efa support group 23Sara Franklin and Epilepsy Foundation support group (photo taken prior to COVID)“We are fortunate to have an amazing cross-section of volunteer leaders, dedicated staff, and professional advisors on our local boards,” says Franklin. “The local community is impacted greatly by having faculty presence on the board as they work with the Epilepsy Foundation to lead the conversation about epilepsy.”

Franklin says the local board volunteers dedicate their time and talents at fundraising events, advocacy, and outreach efforts.

For Gaston, her volunteerism on the board means greater ways to be involved in change. “As an adult epileptologist at UAB, I am committed to bettering the lives of my patients with epilepsy.” When asked to join the Foundation's advisory board, she says she saw it as an opportunity further her mission of supporting patients and to become even more involved in advocacy.

Plus, she enjoys UAB and the local, engaged community. “UAB is a wonderful place to work. As a Level 4 Epilepsy Center, we are able to offer any and all possible available treatments for epilepsy. Further, our group is wonderful, and I really enjoy the supportive relationships I have with my colleagues.”

Gaston says she looks forward to the day in-person events, support groups, and advocacy events return in full swing for the Epilepsy Foundation.