Worldstar Hip Hop posted this video of a woman suffering a tonic-clonic seizure on the reality series Celebrity Rehab. Tonic-clonic seizures were formerly referred to as grand mal seizures and involve both sides of the brain.
The tonic phase of the disorder is the shortest, usually lasting a few seconds. This is when the muscles and ligaments tense up, the patient moans and falls to the floor.
The clonic phase, the longest, is when the muscles begin to relax and contract at the same time causing convulsions. It isn't abnormal for a patient to bite parts of their tongue off during this phase due to the jaws contracting. Some patients will experience an aura or lightheadedness minutes before the seizure comes on.
Once a seizure begins, there isn't much that can be done other than to make them comfortable (place something soft under their heads like a jacket). Position their heads to the side so that if they vomit they will not choke. And most importantly, make sure their airway is not obstructed by bedding, pillows, etc.
Contrary to popular belief, patients who have seizures do not swallow their tongues. But the tongue can fall back and block the airway.
Seizures can be caused by brain injuries, rapidly flashing lights, fatigue, drugs such as antihistamines, anxiety, diseases such as diabetes, and other factors.
Call 911 if the patient is not a known epileptic (prone to having seizures), or if the patient injures herself or has difficulty breathing. Otherwise, just remain with the patient until the seizure is over. The patient's limbs will relax and she will appear to be sleeping. Once she is awake, she will be groggy and disoriented for a short period of time.
This has been your Medical Minute.
As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional.