Watching convulsions / a seizure can be a eye-opening and scary experience. Seizures are not as easy to recognize as most rescuers think and they rarely fit the mental image of what we believe a seizure should look like. Recognition of and providing care for seizures can be simplified into 9 easy to remember steps. These steps are as follows:
1. Take about one minute. Seizures don’t last very long. They rarely exceed one minute. If you can, try to time the seizure or ask a bystander to do so for you while you provide other care. That information can be very useful for doctors in the hospital.
2. Hollywood got it wrong. Most people that witness a seizure for the first time are surprised as to what it looks like. Hollywood has most people thinking that a seizure will have somebody shaking violently for the entire experience. This is rarely the case as seizures vary in the type of convulsions. Don’t be surprised if a seizure doesn’t fit your mental imagery of one.
3. Protect the head. When a seizure is happening a first aid attendant can’t do very much for the victim other than prevent injury. The most vital component of the body, the head, should be on the top of the rescuer’s priority list. The rescuer should do whatever he or she can to protect the victim’s head which includes placing a soft bag, sweatshirt or hands behind the victim’s head.
4. Let the body move freely. Rescuers should not try to restrict the movement of the convulsing body. You won’t be able to either. Let the body move freely and protect the head. Rescuers should try to move any obstructions away from the patient so that they do not injure themselves during the seizure.
5. Don’t put anything in the mouth. Putting something in the victim’s mouth is a popular myth for treating patients during convulsions. Placing anything into the patients mouth will not only not help the victim but will also add a choking hazard to the emergency situation. Fingers and objects need to stay away from the mouth when a patient is convulsing.
6. Don’t expect a responsive patient after its done. When a patient stops convulsing and slowly regains consciousness don’t expect a fully conscious and aware patient. It takes approximately an hour for the brain to “re-start” so when asking the patient questions don’t expect an accurate or coherent answer.
7. A seizure doesn’t mean the patient is epileptic. Don’t expect the patient to be epileptic just because they are having a seizure. Trauma to the head and drug and alcohol abuse are also factors that can create convulsions. A patient can have seizures from as many as 20 different reasons. Rescuers should not rule out other diseases, drug abuse and head trauma when treating seizure patients.
8. Treat for any other injuries. A patient that has convulsions might have injuries in other parts of the body especially if they collapsed onto a hard floor. Don’t forget to check the head for any bleeding or swelling. Check the extremities for any bruising or bleeding if they where convulsing into anything during the seizure.
9. Check for medical alert bracelets. Patients that are epileptic will likely have medical alert bracelets with some detailed information. Check the patients wrists for bracelets or medic alert tabs for more information and patient details.
For more information about seizures or epilepsy click on the links. To learn to recognize and treat convulsing patients and seizures take first aid training through a reliable provider like Vancouver First Aid Ltd.