Simple partial seizures, also called focal onset aware seizures, are a type of seizure caused by defective nerve signaling in a localized part of the brain.

These seizures are usually the first ones to occur in patients with Batten disease who may later develop more severe generalized seizures. Simple partial seizures may also be a kind of warning or so-called aura before a stronger seizure occurs.

Patients are usually fully aware during the seizure and do not lose consciousness but are unable to stop it. These seizures are typically brief and last between a few seconds and less than two minutes. After the seizure is over, the patient usually remembers it. The symptoms are localized to one side of the body, depending on the part of the brain affected.

Types of simple partial seizures

Depending on the part of the brain affected and the ensuing symptoms, simple partial seizures can be categorized into four types: motor, sensory, autonomic, and psychic.

Motor

When the affected part of the brain involves motor neurons, the seizure affects muscle activity and causes symptoms such as jerking of the arms or legs and turning of the eyes or head to one side.

Sensory

When the sensory nerves are affected, symptoms can manifest in all five senses, such as problems with hearing, strange smells, unpleasant tastes, hallucinations, a feeling of tingling on one side of the body, and other distortions.

Autonomic

When the part of the brain controlling autonomic functions is affected, there may be problems with blood pressure, bowel function, or heart rhythm.

Psychic

When the part of the brain associated with psychic function is affected, issues with emotions or memory may occur, such as sudden feelings of fear, anger, pleasure, rage, anxiety, or ‘déjà vu’ (a feeling that something has occurred before).

Management of simple partial seizures

Simple partial seizures can be managed with anticonvulsants that prevent seizures from occurring. A patient having a simple partial seizure should be guided away from unsafe surroundings in case the seizure develops into a generalized seizure.

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