1. What is Epilepsy?
2. Seizures and its affect on the body
3. Stages of a seizure
4. Treatments for the disorder
5. Final Reflection and Bibliography
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain disorder
in which sudden bursts of
electrical energy interferes
with a person’s
or sensations. “Epilepsy is
as common as breast cancer,
and takes as many lives. Up
to 50, 000 Americans die
each year from seizures and
related causes. The
mortality rate for people
with epilepsy is 2-3 times
higher and the risk of
sudden death is 24 times
greater than that of the
general population. There
are 200,000 new cases each
year, and a total of more
than 3 million Americans are
affected by it.” (Newsweek)
Seizures often result in abnormal behavior
or movement. They affect different parts of
the brain and any of the brain’s functions.
Epilepsy is not rare or contagious, and is
not always disabling for people.
In biblical times, people with epilepsy were
thought to be possessed by demons and
were treated as outcasts of society.
What is Epilepsy?
Some historical figures
known to have epilepsy
Peter the Great, and
Having epilepsy is as
common as having
A. The chicken pox
B. Been in an auto
C. Food poisoning
D. Breast cancer
There are two major categories of seizures:
Focal and Generalized
Focal seizures may or may not alter
consciousness, and occurs in only one side of
Generalized seizures always cause a change or
loss of consciousness, and affects the entire
Sixty percent of people with epilepsy have focal
Symptoms of focal seizures can be mistaken
for the following:
Migraine headaches, fainting, and narcolepsy.
Generalized seizure How they appear to
1. Person may cry out, fall
1. Tonic-Clonic, or down, become rigid, and lose
grand mal seizures consciousness. Drooling, biting of the
tongue or lips, and blue skin may
2. Clonic occur
3. Tonic 2. Repeated jerking movements of
entire body’s muscles.
4. Atonic, or drop 3. Person may fall down because
attack muscles in the body go stiff.
Person has a sudden loss of muscle
5. Myoclonic 4.
control which causes them to fall or
6. Absence, or petit involuntarily drop their head.
mal seizures 5. Person has a sudden jerk of the arms
and legs usually after waking.
6. Person has a brief loss of awareness.
They may stare blankly which gives
the appearance of not paying
attention. This can occur multiple
times per day.
There is not always a clear pattern, so all
seizures are unable to be clearly identified
as focal or generalized.
It is very important, however, to make an
attempt to categorize them so the doctor
may diagnose and treat the patient in the
True or False? You can always tell when a
person is having a seizure because they fall
to the ground and shake.
There are some people that experience
sensations that warn them of an impending
seizure. They are known as auras and are
merely simple focal seizures themselves.
There are four actual stages within an
The build-up, the warning, the obvious
attack, and the recovery period.
Let’s see what each stage is like one by one.
I. The person may experience a slow change
I. The build-up in alertness, emotion, or behavior over
II. The warning II. The seizure can begin as an odd
III. The obvious sensation, emotion, or uncomfortable
feeling. Sight may be affected so that it
attack becomes blurred or temporarily lost.
IV. The recovery There may be unpleasant tastes, smells,
or sounds of unknown origin. The person
period may have emotional outbursts, or their
speech and comprehension may be
III. The attack depends on the type of seizure
IV. The recovery period may be brief or
several hours. The person is often drowsy
and appears dazed and very tired. They
tend to misunderstand spoken words, and
have difficulty remembering facts. They
may not speak clearly and are confused
after the episode.
The majority of seizures do not last longer
than three minutes. Only if the seizures last
longer than 5-10 minutes should 911 be
When a person is recovering from a
seizure, their response is not the following:
a) Wide awake and coherent
b) Tired and drowsy
c) Doesn’t remember facts
d) Dazed and incoherent
There are various methods to treat epilepsy.
Doctors use medication, surgery, the Vagus
Nerve device, and the ketogenic diet.
The most common method of treatment is
prescribing antiepileptic drugs.
The choice of drug to prescribe and its
dosage is dependent on:
◦ The types of seizures experienced.
◦ The frequency of the seizures.
◦ The individual’s lifestyle and age.
◦ The likelihood of pregnancy.
Most people can be controlled with one drug at
their specified level of dosage. Although doctors
can recommend surgery when medications fail.
In order for surgery to be an option, doctors must
consider the types of seizures the patient has, the
area of the brain involved, and how important that
area is to everyday behavior (ex.
Speech, Hearing, Memory).
Another method is the use of the Vagus Nerve
Stimulation device. It is the most common surgery
for those who are resistant to medication.
The Vagus Nerve device gives chronic,
intermittent electrical stimulation of the left
vagus nerve in the neck. The stimulation
occurs automatically throughout the day
and can reduce seizures by 20%-40%.
The last option for seizure treatments is the
ketogenic diet. The diet is a medical therapy
in which patients maintain a strict diet rich
in fats and low in carbohydrates. This diet
causes the body to break down fats instead
of carbohydrates to survive.
The ketogenic diet is a treatment primarily
for children. Not all children respond well to
it, but it is very effective at controlling
seizures when it works. If not followed
properly, the diet can trigger seizures and
should never be used without supervision.
The ketogenic diet is an optional treatment
that works best for:
1) I have been indirectly dealing with epilepsy all my
life because my mom has the disorder. This
assignment gave me the chance to really learn
more about the details of it.
2) I learned exactly how deadly and common
epilepsy was. Why is breast cancer more
important? Where’s the funding for epilepsy
3) There is no cure for epilepsy at this time. Most
physicians don’t know why the brain reacts the
way it does for this disorder. Until we can find a
way to gain a complete understanding on how the
brain works, all we can do is take preventive
measures to contain the seizures.
Meacham, Jon. “A Storm in the Brain.”
Newsweek. 20 April, 2009: 38-41. Print
National Institute of Neurological Disorders
and Stroke. “Seizure and Epilepsy: Hope
through research.” National Institute of
Health. 20 August, 2004. Bethesda, Maryland.
Svoboda, William M.D. “Learning about
Epilepsy.” Baltimore, Maryland: 1979. Print