The child feels a strange sensation overcoming their entire body. Senses become fuzzy, loses consciousness, every muscle becomes tense, mild to severe muscle twitches that last from a few seconds to a couple minutes – they regain consciousness with a pounding headache and extremely confused. What just happened? It’s labeled as a seizure – the physical changes in behavior that occur after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. People that have seizures commonly are diagnosed with epilepsy. Epilepsy is a highly misunderstood disorder. Many people believe that people diagnosed with it are unable to live and maintain a day-to-day life, that they are mentally incapable of having a “normal” life. In reality, there are millions of people that have epilepsy and nobody knows. Around the world there are misconceptions about epilepsy. People think it’s contagious, only kids can get epilepsy, and some believe that people with it aren’t able to live a “normal” life. Contrary to popular belief, seizures present themselves in various ways. There are four main groups of seizures: generalized, partial, non-epileptic, and status epilepticus.
The most commonly known seizure is called Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure, or also known as Grand Mal Seizures. During this type of seizure the patients’ starts to become stiff (the Tonic phase), followed by jerking of the limbs and face (the Clonic phase). There are four other types of seizures in the Generalized group – Myoclonic, Atonic, Absence, and Infantile Spasms. Myoclonic seizures are rapid contractions of body muscles occurring at the same time on both sides of the body. Atonic seizures produce an abrupt loss of muscle tone. Other names for this seizure include drop attacks, astatic or akinetic seizures. This seizure produce head drops, loss of posture, or sudden collapses. Absence, also called petit mal seizure, is lapses of awareness, sometimes with staring, that begin and end abruptly. Infantile spasms are clusters of quick, sudden movements that start between three months and two years. If a child is sitting up, the head will fall forward, and the arms will flex forward. If lying down, the knees will be drawn up, with arms and head flexed forward as if the baby is reaching for support. Partial Seizures are subdivided into simple partial (consciousness is retained) and complex partial (consciousness is impaired or lost).
Partial seizures are the most common type of seizure experienced by people with epilepsy. Non-Epileptic Seizures are episodes that briefly change a person’s behavior and often look like epileptic seizures. The difference between epileptic seizures and non-epileptic seizures is that non-epileptic seizures are not caused by electrical disruptions in the brain. Status Epilepticus is a continuous state of seizure, meaning the seizure is prolonged or it occurs in a series. Although researchers spend millions of dollars and a large amount of time each year, there is no cure of epilepsy just yet. There are, however, things a patient can do to control seizures. People with epilepsy can have surgeries; take medications and refrain from doing certain activities. Someone with epilepsy is capable of living a perfectly normal life without anyone knowing they suffer from it.