May 27, 2014

A handful of prescription pills from an orange bottle.
If your loved one experiences a seizure, it’s important to remain calm and provide help, including giving medications as prescribed by a physician.

Witnessing your loved one having a seizure can be a scary experience. But as a caregiver, it’s important to remain calm and offer help.

To ensure the safety of your loved one during and after a seizure, our nursing team in Katy, Texas, recommends the following:

  • Protect the person’s head with a cushion.
  • Place the person on her side.
  • Provide medication as prescribed by the person’s doctor.
  • Do not restrain or hold the person down.
  • Monitor the characteristics of the seizure to report them to the person’s doctor.
  • Never attempt to pry the person’s teeth apart or put anything in her mouth.

It’s also important to know the type of seizure your loved one had in order to provide the best home care.

Seizures are divided into two categories: partial and generalized. Categories are based on the brain activity and the type of behavior exhibited during the seizure.

Generalized seizures are caused by electrical impulses involving the entire brain. Partial seizures only involve a small portion of the brain.

To help you identify the type of seizure your loved one had, refer to the following common characteristics:

Generalized Seizures:

  • Grand Mal – characterized by muscle rigidity, convulsions and loss of consciousness
  • Clonic – rhythmic jerks on both sides of the body that are repetitive
  • Tonic – stiffening of the muscles
  • Myoclonic – sporadic jerking on both sides of the body
  • Absence – associated with a loss of consciousness for a few seconds. An activity is usually interrupted and is seen as a blank stare.
  • Atonic – associated with a sudden loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs. The person will generally fall down.

Partial Seizures

  • Simple (motor, sensory and psychological) – During the seizure, the person’s awareness is retained.
    • Motor: The person experiences muscle rigidity, jerking, spasms and turning of the head.
    • Psychological: The person experiences emotional or memory disturbances.
    • Sensory: The person experiences sensations that affect hearing, smell, taste, vision or touch.
  • Complex – The person’s awareness is impaired. The person will exhibit chewing, fidgeting, lip smacking, walking and other involuntary repetitive movements that are coordinated.
  • Partial – The person tries to maintain consciousness that progresses to a loss of consciousness and ends in convulsions.

There are many treatment options that can lessen the effects of seizure activity and help the person live a more controlled and comfortable life. Talk to your loved one’s doctor for more information.

To learn more about seizures, visit the Epilepsy Foundation’s website.