First Aid for Tonic Clonic Seizures

July 4, 2012

In all types of seizures, the goal is to protect the person from harm until full awareness returns. If you are living with or caring for someone with a seizure disorder who has other medical problems, check with the doctor about how to respond when a seizure happens. Find out whether the doctor wants to be notified every time or just in certain circumstances. Ask whether or when you should call an ambulance and if there are any special warning signals that you should looking for. Also note the general rule:

The less done to a person during a relatively brief seizure, the better.

For tonic clonic seizures:

  1. If necessary, ease the person to the floor.
  2. Loosen any tight neckwear.
  3. Protect the person’s head and body from injury.
  4. Do not restrain the person.
  5. Do not insert anything between the teeth.
  6. If the person starts to bleed from the mouth, do not panic. S/he has probably bitten the tongue.
  7. Once relaxed, turn the person onto the side to ensure an open air passage and decrease risk of aspiration (inhalation of fluids or objects into the lungs, often after vomiting).
  8. After the seizure, let the person sleep if needed.
  9. Suggest that s/he see a physician.
  10. If the person has a second seizure within a few minutes, call a doctor or ambulance.

For Persons in Wheelchairs

During the seizure:

  • Keep calm and let the seizure run its course.
  • Hold up the wheelchair and ensure the brakes are on to protect him/her from injury.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth.
  • Remove anything from the area that may cause injury or could be a hazard to someone who is temporarily unaware of their location or actions.

After the seizure:

  • Set the wheelchair to a partial recline position, not full recline.
  • Gently turn the person’s head to the side to let the saliva flow out of the mouth.
  • Let the person rest or sleep if needed.
  • Be reassuring, comforting and calm as awareness returns.