Epilepsy

How to help when someone has a seizure

On Saturday evening, I was at the OCBC Aquatic Centre with a client of mine, a person with epilepsy, and a volunteer doctor.

We were there to use the shower facilities after an exercise programme.

However, before we could enter the shower room, my client suddenly had a seizure. The volunteer doctor and I immediately attended to him. Staff from the aquatic centre also came forward to assist.

When a seizure occurs, there is little anyone can do to stop it.

This is important to know, as people who witness a seizure often run about frantically and insist that something be done.

The main thing is to keep the individual having the seizure from suffering any injury.

Trying to restrain convulsive movements of the limbs or trunk can injure both the one having the seizure and the one restraining him.

Rather than hold the person's arms and legs, one should try to clear objects out of his way.

With seizures that involve little thrashing about and much strenuous posturing, pillows placed under or around the patient may reduce bruising.

If the person is already unconscious and lying on his back when he is found, it is often a good idea to roll him onto his side to keep him from choking.

When changing his position, one should push or pull the trunk, and not the limbs, because shoulder dislocation sometimes occurs during generalised convulsions.

We would like to thank the four staff from the aquatic centre who came to our help. They even gave my client a drink and stood outside the shower cubicle to make sure he would be all right.

Attitudes towards people with epilepsy are influenced by the extent of knowledge about the condition, and this can only come about from an awareness and understanding of what epilepsy is.

Goh Keng Hwee

Executive Director

Epilepsy Care Group Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2021, with the headline 'How to help when someone has a seizure'. Subscribe