Long-Term Care

Trainer’s tip: Understand seizure types

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, April 22, 2010

The location of the abnormal electrical activity in the brain determines the type of seizure the resident experiences. It is possible for one resident to have several different types of seizures. Generalized seizures occur when the brain is suddenly and completely overtaken or overwhelmed by abnormal electrical activity, causing convulsions, falls, spasticity, or loss of consciousness. Types of generalized seizures include:

  • Tonic clonic (grand mal)
  • Myoclonic seizures
  • Atonic seizures
  • Absence seizures

Partial seizures occur when a smaller area of the brain is affected. The abnormal electricity occurs in the areas of the brain responsible for vision, hearing, or memory. Partial seizures occasionally progress to generalized. In the elderly, they may produce uncontrolled shaking, alter emotions, or change the way things look, smell, feel, taste, or sound. When the resident is conscious during the seizure, it’s called a simple partial seizure. Complex partial seizures cause the resident to experience a trancelike, confused, dreamlike state. The resident will have no memory of the seizure. He or she may stare, have repetitive movements, pick at clothing, mumble, or make repeated chewing movements. Although the seizures may change, residents usually develop a pattern and do the same things in order each time, so the seizure is easily recognizable. Occasionally, the partial seizure will expand and spread to the entire brain.

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Nursing Desk Reference, Second Edition, by Barbara Acello, MS, RN.

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