Focal Impaired-Awareness Seizures

Batten disease is a genetic disorder characterized by loss of vision and progressive loss of physical and mental ability. Many Batten disease patients also experience seizures, though the types of seizure may differ between patients.

What is a focal impaired-awareness seizure?

A focal seizure (sometimes also called a partial seizure) is a seizure that affects only a specific area of the brain. Focal seizures can be simple (in which patients remain conscious) or impair the patient’s awareness.

A focal impaired-awareness seizure is a focal seizure in which the patient is not aware of their surroundings. Focal impaired-awareness seizures can begin as a simple seizure that spreads to other areas of the brain and causes loss of consciousness or awareness.

Symptoms of a focal impaired-awareness seizure

Focal impaired-awareness seizures generally last one or two minutes. Some patients experience an “aura,” or warning, before the seizure begins.

The beginning of the seizure is accompanied by automatisms (repetitive motions) in some patients. These can include grunting, rubbing hands, picking at clothes, or chewing motions.

Patients may not lose consciousness completely, but be in a dream-like or trance-like state in which they remain standing or moving about with eyes open. Some patients may be able to speak during a seizure, but their words may not make sense.

Treatments for focal impaired-awareness seizures

Maintaining a treatment regimen of anticonvulsants can reduce seizure frequency and severity. A seizure diary can be used to identify seizure triggers and avoid them. For patients who have seizures at night, a seizure alarm may be useful.

Other information

Patients may not remember what happened during their seizure. They may be confused, tired, or sleepy after a seizure.

It is important to have an emergency seizure management plan with information about the patient and their treatment regimen so that emergency responders can treat them appropriately.


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