November Is Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy is the third most common neurological disorder in the United States after Alzheimer’s and Stroke.  Its prevalence is equal to cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease combined! Epilepsy is a chronic medical condition marked by recurrent seizures.  A seizure is an event of altered brain activity caused by disorderly discharge from the neurons or brain cells. Epilepsy affects up to one percent of the population in the U.S.  There are different types of seizures, different causes of seizures, and there can be different parts to seizures.

Common Symptoms of a seizure include:

  • Staring or Unresponsiveness
  • Confusion
  • Wandering
  • Jerks and Twitches
  • Shaking
  • Picking or Lip Smacking
  • Whole body convulsions (grand mal seizure)

Types of Seizures:

  • Absence- Staring with a brief loss of consciousness
  • Myoclonic- Sporadic or repeated, brief jerks of the limb(s)
  • Clonic- Repetitive, rhythmic jerking movements of head or limbs
  • Tonic- Loss of consciousness, stiffness and rigidity of the whole body
  • Atonic- Loss of muscle tone in head or body
  • “Grand Mal” or generalized tonic-clonic- Loss of consciousness, rigid muscles, whole body convulsions
  • Simple Partial- No loss of consciousness, jerking or stiffening on one side of the body, can have an aura
  • Complex Partial- Impaired awareness, staring, unresponsiveness, automations (lip smacking, chewing, picking)

Some Common Causes:

  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Brain Injury or defects
  • Brain Tumor
  • Metabolic Disturbances
  • CNS Infections

First Aid Steps for Caring with Someone Having a Seizure

  1. Guide the person to a safe area away from danger such as water, machinery, or fire
  2. Speak quietly and calmly to the person
  3. Don’t restrain the person, try to stop the movements, or place objects in the mouth
  4. Stay with the person until they regain consciousness or until help arrives
  5. Remove eyeglasses and any tight objects from around the neck
  6. When movements stop, place person on their side
  7. Call 9-1-1 if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or results in injury

To learn more visit or

+ Find an experienced neurologist in Hampton Roads.

+ Learn more about neurological care on the southside and the peninsula.

+ Contact a member of the Bon Secours Neuroscience team!

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