20 June 2011

Seizing a seizure at work

One in a hundred people have epilepsy, but most are too ashamed or afraid to discuss it with friends or colleagues.

One in a hundred people have epilepsy¹, but most are too ashamed or afraid to discuss it with friends or colleagues. Epilepsy can be easily managed with the correct treatment regime, but in times of increased stress, seizures can still occur. Some people have a vague idea of what to do; others have no idea at all about how to seize an epileptic seizure.

“Different people experience epilepsy in different ways”, says Neurologist at Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Dr. Dave Anderson. “A seizure is usually caused by an electrical imbalance in the brain and can seize the body in different ways”.

  • Remain calm and note the time and the characteristics of the seizure.
  • Clear a space around the person and prevent others from crowding around.
  • Loosen tight clothing / neckwear and remove spectacles.
  • Cushion the head to prevent injury.
  • Put the person onto their left side with their top leg bent and the bottom arm slightly extended (known as the shock recovery position).

    Shock recovery position
  • Reassure and assist the person until he/she has recovered or become re-orientated.
  • Allow the person to rest or sleep if necessary covering them with a blanket.
  • Note the time again – working out the duration of the seizure.
  • Provide information on the time and duration of the seizure to the person after he/she has recovered fully, as well as the characteristics of the seizure to the best of your ability.  It is important for them to keep a record of this type of information.

  1. Restrict or restrain the person’s movements.
  2. Move the person unless he/she might hurt him/herself or is in immediate danger (i.e. in a busy road).
  3. Put anything between the person’s teeth or in the person’s mouth.
  4. Give anything to eat or drink during the seizure.
  5. Give anti-convulsants, unless stipulated to do so by a neurologist.
  6. Call a doctor or an ambulance unless the person has injured him/herself badly, if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or the person has repeated seizures without recovering between seizures.


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