Tag Archives: seizures

Video examines dos and don’ts surrounding tonic-clonic seizures

January 28, 2016

By Deron Hamel

When it comes to epileptic seizures, it’s safe to say tonic-clonic seizures are the most recognized – and misunderstood – variety.

A new video on Epilepsy Ontario’s website provides insight into what tonic-clonic seizures are, what to do if you see someone having this type of seizure and what not to do.

Pictured above is a scene from the new video about tonic-clonic seizures.
Pictured above is a scene from the new video about tonic-clonic seizures.

In the video, a man and his girlfriend are walking through a park. Suddenly, the man stops in his tracks, falls to the ground and begins convulsing. Luckily, his girlfriend knows how to react. When she sees her boyfriend begin to fall, she responds right away and asks a person nearby to help her make him comfortable by placing rolled-up clothing under his head.

The stranger then asks the man’s girlfriend, “Is he going to swallow his tongue? Are you supposed to put a spoon in his mouth or something?” The woman then explains that putting anything in a person’s mouth during a seizure is dangerous.

“The best thing we can do is wait it out,” she says. “We’ve just got to make sure and there’s nothing around where he can harm himself.”

A common reaction when people have a tonic-clonic seizure is that someone calls an ambulance. However, unless the person does not have epilepsy, is in water, pregnant, or is injured from the seizure, calling for medical help is not necessary.

Medical help should be called if a seizure lasts longer than five minutes. Because of this, timing seizures is crucial. Medical help is also needed if a second seizure begins before the person has recovered from the first one. Prolonged seizures, or repetitive seizures without recovery in between, are medical emergencies that require urgent treatment because they can result in status epilepticus.

During a tonic-clonic seizure there is widespread seizure activity in both hemispheres and the individual would be unconscious.

Tonic-clonic seizures can start in different ways, depending on the type of epilepsy that a person has. For some people, their seizure may start as a focal seizure in a specific area of the brain and evolve into a bilateral convulsive seizure. For other people, the seizure is a generalized tonic-clonic seizure from the outset. Understanding whether someone has focal epilepsy or generalized epilepsy is important because there are different treatment options.

The video is one of three recently created through a joint project of Epilepsy Ontario and Epilepsy Toronto with funding provided by Ontario Trillium Foundation. The other two videos examine absence seizures and focal dyscognitive seizures.

Each video provides a glimpse into what specific types of seizures look like and explains what steps should be taken by those witnessing the seizure.

“We can use these new videos to show people how to identify different types of seizures and how to help when they see someone having a seizure,” explains Epilepsy Ontario project manager Nikki Porter.

“The videos dispel myths about seizures and (provide information about) seizure first aid. I hope they also help to destigmatize epilepsy.”

Voices of Epilepsy is featuring a series of articles focusing on each of the videos. Click here to read the article about focal dyscognitive seizures.

Click here to watch the videos.

If you have feedback on this story, or have a story of your own that you would like to share, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.com. You can also leave a comment below.

Can exercise reduce seizures in children with epilepsy? Study aims to find out

May 1, 2014

When most people talk about physical activity, they think of cardiovascular heThree young friends running on a path outdoors smilingalth. However, a body of evidence suggests exercise can also be an important factor in reducing seizures in children with epilepsy. This is the focus of an EpLink study led by Dr. Gabriel Ronen.

Ronen, a researcher from McMaster University, is conducting a study on the benefits of exercise for children living with epilepsy. The study is monitoring a group of children with epilepsy who are involved in a walking program and comparing their seizure numbers to children with epilepsy who are not participating in regular exercise.

The researchers’ hypothesis is that children with epilepsy who get regular exercise will have fewer seizures.

Existing studies indicate that people who exercise regularly show enhanced scores on perception when their cognition is tested, with improvements in concentration, verbal abilities, reading skills and arithmetic.

Studies also show increased exercise is particularly beneficial to children in primary and middle school. Research also indicates that increased exercise can decrease the impact of conditions such as depression and anxiety, both of which are known to contribute to seizures in some people with epilepsy.

As part of the ongoing study, about 70 children and youths aged eight to 15 are participating in a walking program hosted at McMaster Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Participants walk with pedometers to measure the distance walked on an ongoing basis for six months, with seizures charted. For the next six months the children are monitored to see if there are sustained benefits.

Ronen and his team are trying to determine if exercise in children can change genetic functioning in the brain through a phenomenon called epigenetics. Through epigenetics, gene expressions can be manipulated, changing their function.  

“It seems that exercise may up-regulate certain gene expressions that improve certain brain factors,” Ronen tells Voices of Epilepsy. “We believe that exercise may have an epigenetic effect that certain positive brain substances increase and some of the deleterious effects on the brain decrease.”

There are existing studies suggesting increased physical activity in adults may improve medical and psychosocial aspects, but there are no such studies in children, Ronen says.

This is the gap he and his team are filling through their work.

Established by the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), the EpLink program is unique in Canada. EpLink involves more than 25 researchers working at nine different university and hospital sites across Ontario. EpLink also encompasses five industry partners and five nonprofit advocacy groups.

On March 5, 2013, the province committed to injecting $100 million over five years to OBI, which, in turn, means the program will be funded until 2018.

Writer: Deron Hamel

If you have feedback on this story, or have a story of your own that you would like to share, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca. You can also leave a comment below.

Mother calls for more action to develop mandatory drug-shortage database

March 21, 2014

When Diana went to fill her daughter’s clobazam prescription last week, she was in for a big surprise when the pharmacy told her it couldn’t supply her with all the medication her daughter needed.
Empty pill bottle615
Diana was unaware there was a medication shortage.

With the help of Epilepsy Ontario, Diana was able to get an additional supply of clobazam for her daughter, but it still isn’t enough of the medication to last until the shortage is slated to end in early May.

Since then, Diana has been spending much of her free time phoning pharmacies asking if they have clobazam in stock. This causes another hurdle for Diana because if she has to switch pharmacies, she needs to go back to her daughter’s neurologist and get a new prescription. Once a patient is prescribed clobazam, it can only be switched once to another pharmacy.

Through her efforts, Diana was able to obtain another clobazam supply that her daughter can use until the start of April, but that still isn’t enough medication to last her daughter until the shortage ends.

“It’s very frustrating — I’m very anxious about this,” Diana says, adding she also finds herself checking the online Canadian Drug Shortage Database to see if updates on the shortage are posted.

Diana says the high level of stress she and other people go through during medication shortages could be averted if pharmaceutical companies were mandated by federal law to provide notices of impending drug shortages so people could get their medications ahead of time, or, if needed, ease off one medication and start on a new one.

Diana has a clear picture of what this should look like.

“If there were drug-shortage notices that went out to all pharmacies, patients who have, for example, a prescription for clobazam, could get a phone call or an e-mail notifying them that there is the possibility of a shortage coming up, and an outline would be given for what steps need to be taken,” she says.

Given that pharmacies already have systems in place to notify people when prescriptions are due to be refilled, Diana says she doesn’t see why existing systems can’t be updated to include shortage notices.

Diana is also taking the initiative to write her MP’s office to explain the need for a mandatory drug-shortage database — and she’s encouraging others to follow suit.
Clobazam, which is marketed by several pharmaceutical companies in Canada, is a common medication prescribed to people with seizure disorders. The medication is usually prescribed to work in tandem with other pharmaceuticals. While several companies manufacture the drug, some people with epilepsy can experience changes in their seizure control when they switch brands.

There have been multiple shortages of anti-seizure medications over the past few years, and this is at least the second clobazam shortage in 14 months. In January 2013 Epilepsy Ontario issued a notice that pharmacies had back orders of clobazam.

In September, new guidelines were established that have been developed by government, industry and other stakeholders clearly outlining the expectations, roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders during a medication shortage.

Adhering to these guidelines is important to ensure safety for people with chronic conditions requiring medications, says epilepsy information specialist Suzanne Nurse.

“When it comes to managing drug shortages, early notification from drug manufacturers is key,” she says.

Writer: Deron Hamel

If you have feedback on this story, or have a story of your own that you would like to share, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca. You can also leave a comment below.