Epilepsy is a common neurological condition in which an individual has the tendency to experience recurring seizures. Proper management of the seizure is vital in order to minimize the risks associated with epilepsy. Take note that a seizure is not hazardous, but the individual is at risk if he/she is in an unsafe environment and unconscious. Injuries can occur at home, workplace, school or even in public venues.

Those who experience seizures are more prone to the potential risks particularly when they occur without warning. The type, cause and occurrence of seizures tend to vary from one individual to another. It is important to assess potential risks and manage them appropriately. When people witness a tonic-clonic seizure, they fear that the individual is in danger for injury. Nevertheless, the risk of brain damage or death from a seizure is low. An individual is at risk if he/she is doing something dangerous when the seizure occurs, especially if the awareness is compromised.

First aid for an epileptic seizure


Position a soft pillow beneath the head of the individual and tight clothing must be loosened, especially in the neck area

If an individual who has epilepsy suffered a tonic-clonic seizure, there are steps to follow that you can learn in a first aid class.

  • Stay calm and remain with the individual.
  • Take note when the seizure started and until it ended.
  • Always protect the individual from injury by removing hard objects nearby.
  • Position a soft pillow beneath the head of the individual and loosen tight clothing, especially in the neck area.
  • Roll gently the individual on the side as soon as possible and firmly push the angle of the jaw forward to help with breathing. Take note that the individual cannot swallow their tongue but it can move back, causing blockage to the breathing. Try to establish communication with the individual to determine if the consciousness is restored.
  • Assure the individual and stay with him/her until fully recovered which can range from 5-20 minutes or even longer.

When to call for help for epilepsy

It is important to call for emergency assistance right away for the following:

  • The seizure lasts for five minutes or more or followed by a second seizure
  • Individual is unconscious within five minutes after the seizure stopped
  • Individual does not completely recover after the seizure or experiences breathing difficulty
  • Injured individual
  • Seizure occurs while the individual is in water
  • Individual is pregnant

Epilepsy occurs while individual is in a wheelchair

In case epilepsy occurs while the individual is in a wheelchair, he/she must stay seated as long as he/she is secure and strapped in safely. Provide support to the head until the seizure stops. Oftentimes, the individual must be taken out of the chair once the seizure stops.

If there is water, food or vomit in the mouth, remove the individual from the wheelchair and roll on his/her side right away. If it is not possible to move the individual, continue to provide support to the head to ensure that it does not tilt backward. Remove the contents from the mouth once the seizure is over.


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