Seizure First Aid

People with Batten disease experience different types of seizures. The extent of first aid that should be given depends on seizure type, its duration, and the person’s level of awareness. Most seizures do not require medical attention, and stop on their own.

First aid for seizures

Seizures without change in awareness

An individual having a seizure may be fully alert and aware of what is happening. Two seizures of this type are known as simple partial seizures and myoclonic seizures.

Simple partial seizures are often characterized by jerking of the extremities, tingling, and turning the head and eyes to one side. Myoclonic seizures are sudden and brief muscle jerks.

When these seizures occur, no specific medical intervention needs to be taken. Rather, what’s most important is keeping calm and staying with the person until the seizure is over. If the person is frightened, it can help to encourage them to take deep breaths.

Seizures with altered awareness

Altered awareness means that the person looks awake and aware, but will be confused as to what is happening. Afterward, the individual will likely have problems remembering details or being able to describe what happened. The person may walk around without realizing it, or wandering in a way that shows confusion

Altered awareness can occur during so-called focal impaired-awareness seizures, or clusters of absence seizures.

Focal impaired-awareness seizures often begin with blank staring followed by random movements, such as picking at things, chewing, or removing clothes. The individual may appear frightened, and may scream.

An absence seizure involves brief lapses of consciousness that last for a few seconds or more. During this time, the individual is unresponsive to external stimuli. A single absence seizure is often unnoticed and does not require any medical attention. But these seizures also occur in clusters and could result in status epilepticus, a series of seizures that lasts five minutes or longer.

In altered awareness seizures, bystanders or caregivers should make sure that the person does not walk away or walk into danger. If possible, the individual should walk within an enclosed, safe area. Any potentially hazardous objects should be removed. It is essential that the person is not left alone before the seizure is over and he or she is fully alert and safe.

Seizures with loss of consciousness

Tonic-clonic seizures, also known as grand mal seizures, are typically associated with a loss of consciousness; these are the seizures most people imagine a seizure to be. Tonic-clonic seizures start with a stiffening of the body, shallow breathing, and a slow heart rate. This is followed by trembling and jerking across the entire body.

If a person having a seizure appears unconscious, it is crucial to time the seizure and to watch the breathing. If the seizure lasts for longer than five minutes or problems with breathing occur, emergency medical help is essential. Nearby objects should be removed to protect the person from injury, and someone should stay with the person throughout the seizure.

Rescue medicines can be used when a person experiences an unusual seizure, one that is longer than typical or comes in clusters that differ noticeably from previous such seizures. These are typically fast-acting anticonvulsants, such as intranasal midazolam or rectal diazepam; use those rescue medications recommended by a healthcare team for the patient, if possible.

Seizure management plan

It is essential to prepare a seizure management plan. This kind of plan includes information about precisely what to do when a seizure occurs, and when to call for help. The patients should always carry a copy of the plan, and others should be distributed to family members and caregivers.

What not to do

When someone experiences any kind of seizure, it is important not to restrain the person’s movements. Nothing should ever be put in an individual’s mouth during a seizure, as this can cause injury.

Mouth-to-mouth breath should not be given. Once a seizure ends, breathing almost always returns to normal. If the person is unconscious and having trouble breathing, emergency medical aid — like calling for an ambulance — is essential.

The individual should not eat or drink until awareness is fully restored.


Batten Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.