Teaching ww to a teen with epilepsy

A teenaged son (13) of a good friend wants to become a carpenter when he grows up. His epilepsy is not severe, it is under some control with meds, but he does still have seizures every once in a while. For example, he is on the school football team. He hasn't actually done any woodworking so far beyond hammering some boards together, so I am interested in teaching him a few things -- if it can be done safely. Any skills I have are with power tools. I have some questions.
First, so any replies do not have to carry disclaimers, I am assuming that any advice provided here is not from a lawyer, doctor, Indian Chief, risk assessment expert, etc. I assume all risk knowing that some advice provided here may not be good and could even be bad.
Anyone have any experience working with an epileptic kid to teach him ww? Even if you have not worked with an epileptic, if you have experience working with any kids/teens w/ motor skill problems, that could be helpful.
Of course most power tools are inherently dangerous. Anyone familiar with reasonable ways to make any of the more common power tools "safer" for this kid?
It seems that this situation calls out for schooling in the dark arts -- Neander skills. I am not sure that this will interest him, though it might. If so, any tips from the Neanders? (I'd either have to learn these skills myself first - another good excuse to learn some - or direct the kid to a local group.)
Does anyone know if someone with epilepsy can become a working carpenter? Are there any union rules? Any Work Comp rules? Can one be a working skilled carpenter w/o using power tools? And, w/o having to climb a ladder?
Comments and suggestions? TIA. -- Igor
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No flickering fluorescents. Induces seizures in some. Same might apply to stroboscopic effects on some tools.
Just teach him to use wooden fingers instead of his own wherever possible, and not to look at things which might induce. Most of the seizure meds today are relatively mild in sedative effects, many are allowed drivers' licenses on medication, so shouldn't be a problem. Should he begin to seize, protect him from the sharp tools and let it go. More than 5 minutes on a grand mal can get dangerous, because of oxygen depletion. Petit mal types not as frightening for either of you. If he's like most, he'll "feel" the onset, and turn off all machines.

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The following comments are based on: 1) My wife who has a fully controlled seizure disorder that showed up when she was about 30. 2) My son, a construction superintendent, who witnessed a frightening seizure related event.
Some background information you will need and you may already know it: Does the boy experience an aura "warning" prior to the event, or does he go directly into the siezure? Are they typically the classic grand mal, partial, etc.? (I am certainly no expert, but I would think the partial seizures could be much more of a problem than a full grand mal.) How well controlled is he with medication - do events occur daily, weekly, less often?
I'll give you the bad part first. A year or so ago one of my son's workers fell off of an 8' scaffold. When he arrived at the scene the fellow was convulsive and had an abrasion on his face. They immediately feared a head injury. Before the ambulance arrived the young man started to come around and when his partner described the event the attendant suspected seizure. Long story-short the worker admitted he had epilepsy but didn't reveal it because he was afraid he wouldn't be able to work. Earlier that day that worker was working on a 30' scaffold above a concrete floor! Even though the fellow was fairly well controlled, the company simply could not stand the liability and had to let him go.
I passed this on for one reason. There will be a problem, with employers and others, if his profession involves inherently hazardous work. Also my wife, who hasn't had a siezure in 20 years, gets guff from the insurance companies over health coverage. There is a fair amount of bias and misunderstanding regarding epilepsy - some understandable with regard to hazardous work.
Good stuff second. Can you aim him toward the less hazardous occupations (I'm ignoring power tool concerns for the moment)? For example, cabinetry, trim carpentry, specialized artisan types of work, etc. While residential trim work does involve ladders and scaffold, these trades generally do not involve extreme heights, outdoor work or working in the presence of heavy machinery.
If the boy knows the events are coming and can stop using power tools it might be OK. For that matter, is he mature enought to step away from the table saw if he suspects a problem? These are judgements you, the boy and his parents have to make. This sounds like an opportunity to teach a young man in need, and to emphasize hand-tool techniques before machines. I applaud your desire to do so.
RonB
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This is the straight scoop, 30 yrs ago at Pacific Beach junior High, SD, CA. 8th grade woodshop, one of the guys in my class had a seizure and sawed off his thumb on the table saw. He was a newer transfer student and no one knew he had epilepsy.
If you are going to be working with this kid, be sure your insurance is paid up.
Have a good one,
Byrd
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maybe even start him out carving things. this has kinda become a lost art, and the tools are not quite as dangerous as most power tools. -dave

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I've been working with wood as a woodworker for better than twenty years now and I have epilepsy and I don't have any missing fingers. Most epileptics have some sort of clue a seizure is coming on. Find out what he knows about the onset of his seizures.
-- Woody
Check out my Web Page at:
http://community-1.webtv.net/WoodworkerJoe/WoodworkerJoesInfo
Where you will find:
******** How My Shop Works ******** 5-21-03
* * * Build a $20 DC Separator Can Lid. 1-14-03 * * * DC Relay Box Building Plans. 1-14-03 * * * The Bad Air Your Breath Everyday.1-14-03 * * * What is a Real Woodworker? 2-8-03 * * * Murphy's Woodworking Definitions. 2-8-03 * * * Murphy's Woodworking Laws. 4-6-03 * * * What is the true meaning of life? 1-14-03 * * * Woodworker Shop Signs. 2-8-03
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On Sun, 31 Oct 2004 11:19:35 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Joe "Woody" Woodpecker) wrote:

Thank you and the others for the comments and suggestions. Additional perspectives would also be welcome.
About warnings of an onset. Yes, this may be common, but not the experience of this teen. So far after4 years or so. (In case it is of interest, he has had numerous tests and unfortunately there is no single locus -- in case there is a correlation of some sort.) If only. -- Igor
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i've had epilepsy since i was 12 years old,and i can almost always sense a seizure coming on....that said,since i got older and started taking my meds faithfully,i've been seizure free for almost 15 years.the key is to take the meds,take the meds,take the meds! "Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way......"
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On 03 Nov 2004 18:35:45 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comthelarch (Rick) wrote:

Rick -- Unfortunately, this kid is on his umpteenth drug now and still seizes every 2-3 weeks or so. At least the current drug seems to have little day-to-day side effects. Your story is an inspiration. Maybe as he reaches his late teens things will settle out somehow, but now it is a great frustration - regardless of proper drug-taking regimen and efforts of experts at a major med-center. -- Igor
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I don't know anything about yoour case but you should try a second doctor. Sometimes a second one will see things that the first overlooked.
Dick

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I'd cast a vote for drywall taper. I know it's not woodworking, but it's definately a skill in a carpenter's toolbag, and is generally mush less dangerous than (for instance) operating a table saw. It can also be very satisfying work. Some of the ceiling work might be a little dangerous for someone with epilepsy, but I'm sure there are ways for a motivated individual to find a good workaround for these situations (IE, a taping knife with a long handle or scaffolding instead of stilts)

Electronic brakes and kill-switches rigged to a safety line- so that they are tripped if he falls over. Still a good chance for injury, but not as bad as letting the tool run while he's laying on it.

These days, I doubt anyone is *not* allowed to do anything they want, with all the lawsuits that pop up once the word discrimination comes into play. I don't know that it's necessarily a good idea, though. There would doubtlessly be some work restrictions, and the job may end up being a great disappointment if all he's allowed to do is carry bundles of shingles around.

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