Seizure Disorder (April, 2012)


A seizure is a sudden disruption of the brain's normal electrical activity often accompanied by altered consciousness and other neurological or behavioral manifestations. There are several different "types" of seizures.

Seizure Disorder

A seizure disorder is a condition characterized by recurrent seizures. This condition is often referred to as epilepsy.

Many individuals with developmental disabilities suffer from seizure disorders. A seizure disorder is a serious medical condition that must be addressed by staff. When individuals within a home have a seizure disorder, it is important that staff are trained on how to document and track the individuals seizures. The tracking of the timing, duration and severity of seizures is critical information that physicians must have in order to best treat the disorder.

Common Seizure Types

  1. Generalized or Tonic-Clonic Seizures:these seizures usually begin with the person becoming rigid, followed by loss of consciousness while the muscle of the body twitch or convulse.
  2. Absence Seizures: these seizures do not involve muscle twitching. Individuals with absence seizures will become unresponsive, but still awake, appearing as if in a daze, staring at nothing.
  3. Partial Seizures:these seizures affect only one portion of the body (one arm, one leg, the side of the face, etc.). The individual is alert during the seizure, but the affected body part will twitch or have altered sensation and will be unable to be controlled during the seizure. Any portion of the body can be affected.
  4. Complex Partial Seizures: these seizures begin as a partial seizure does, but the seizure then progresses to cause unconsciousness and generalized muscle twitching.

Individuals who have seizure disorders should have a clear plan in place for how staff should react to a seizure. This plan should be individualized based on each person's type and severity of seizures. The plan should include how to position the individual for safety during the seizure, expectations of the staff during the seizure and should include clear instructions for the conditions under which emergency services or other healthcare personnel are to be notified.