MEMORANDUM†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Page 1 of 2


FROM: ††††††††††† Office of Accessibility Services

SUBJECT:††††††† Seizures


A student in your class has the potential for having seizures or a history of having seizures and has asked that this information be sent to you.† It is possible that this student may have a seizure in class. The Epilepsy Foundation has helpful information on seizures and treatment:

Below are some excerpts from this web site as pertains to a person who has a seizure:

First Aid for Generalized Tonic Clonic (Grand Mal) Seizures

First aid for epilepsy is basically very simple. It keeps the person safe until the seizure stops naturally by itself. It is important for the public to know how to respond to all seizures, including the most noticeable kind -- the generalized tonic clonic seizure, or convulsions.

When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic clonic (grand mal) seizures, these are the key things to remember:

    Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.

    Don't hold the person down or try to stop his movements.

    Time the seizure with your watch.

    Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.

    Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.

    Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.

    Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear. Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. It is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure teeth or jaw.

    Don't attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.

    Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.

    Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.

    Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.

First Aid for Non-Convulsive Seizures

You don't have to do anything if a person has brief periods of staring or shaking of the limbs. If someone has the kind of seizure that produces a dazed state and automatic behavior, the best thing to do is:

    Watch the person carefully and explain to others what is happening. Often people who don't recognize this kind of behavior as a seizure think that the dazed person is drunk or on drugs.

    Speak quietly and calmly in a friendly way.

    Guide the person gently away from any danger, such as a steep flight of steps, a busy highway, or a hot stove. Don't grab hold, however, unless some immediate danger threatens. People having this kind of seizure are on "automatic pilot" so far as their movements are concerned. Instinct may make them struggle or lash out at the person who is trying to hold them.

    Stay with the person until full consciousness returns, and offer help in returning home.


Is an Emergency Room Visit Needed?

An uncomplicated generalized tonic clonic (grand mal) seizure in someone who has epilepsy is not a medical emergency, even though it looks like one. It stops naturally after a few minutes without ill effects. The average person is able to continue about his business after a rest period, and may need only limited assistance or no assistance at all in getting home. In other circumstances, an ambulance should be called. ††††††††† SOME INDIVIDUALS WILL INDICATE THEY ALWAYS WANT THE AMBULANCE TO BE CALLED.

No Need to Call an Ambulance

    if you know a person has a seizure disorder or medical I.D. card/jewelry indicates seizures, and

    if the seizure ends in under five minutes, and

    if consciousness returns without further incident, and

    if there are no signs of injury, physical distress, or pregnancy.

An Ambulance Should Be Called

    if the seizure has happened in water.

    if there's no medical I.D., and no way of knowing whether the seizure is caused by a known seizure disorder.

    if the person is pregnant, injured, or diabetic.

    if the seizure continues for more than five minutes.

    if a second seizure starts shortly after the first has ended.

    if consciousness does not start to return after the shaking has stopped.

If the ambulance arrives after consciousness has returned, the person should be asked whether the seizure was associated with a seizure disorder and whether emergency room care is wanted.† †SOME INDIVIDUALS WILL INDICATE THEY ALWAYS WANT THE AMBULANCE TO BE CALLED.


Head Injury during a Seizure

If the person hits his or her head while falling, his or her post-seizure condition should be carefully monitored. Although sleepiness and confusion are natural consequences of a seizure, it should always be possible to rouse the person without difficulty. A person who fails to return to consciousness after a seizure needs further medical assessment. If head injury is a possibility, the person should be closely observed for the following signs:

    Difficulty in maintaining consciousness (an observer should try to waken the person at 20-minute intervals)


    Vision problems

    Excessive sleepiness two hours or more after the seizure (unless, of course, the seizure has occurred late in the day and the personís usual bedtime is approaching)

If any of these signs are observed, or if the patient has a persistent headache after a rest period, unconsciousness with failure to respond, unequal pupil size or excessively dilated pupils, or weakness of the limbs, immediate medical attention is essential.