The recovery position
Our step-by-step guide to the recovery position shows you how to help someone recover after a tonic clonic seizure. These steps should be followed once the shaking has stopped.
- Kneel on the floor to one side of the person.
- Place the person’s arm that is nearest to you at a right angle to their body, so that it is bent at the elbow with the palm facing upwards. This will keep it out of the way when you roll them over.
- Gently pick up their other hand with your palm against theirs (palm to palm). Turn any rings inward to avoid scratching their face. Now place the back of their hand onto their opposite cheek (for example, against their left cheek if it is their right hand). Keep your hand there to guide and support their head as you roll them.
- Use your other arm to reach across to the person’s knee that is furthest from you, and pull it up so that their leg is bent and their foot is flat on the floor.
- Gently pull their knee towards you so that they roll over onto their side, facing you. Their body weight should help them to roll over quite easily.
- Move the bent leg that is nearest to you, in front of their body so that it is resting on the floor. This position will help to balance them.
- Gently raise their chin to tilt their head back slightly, as this will open up their airway and help them to breathe. Check that nothing is blocking their airway. If there is an obstruction, such as food in their mouth, remove this if you can do so safely. Stay with them, giving reassurance, until they have fully recovered.
Call for an ambulance if:
- it is the person’s first seizure;
- they have injured themselves badly;
- they have trouble breathing after the seizure has stopped;
- one seizure immediately follows another with no recovery in between;
- the seizure lasts 2 minutes longer than is usual for them; or
- you do not know how long their seizures last.
Epilepsy Society is grateful to Dr F J Rugg-Gunn, Consultant Neurologist & Honorary Associate Professor Clinical Lead, Chalfont Centre for Epilepsy, who reviewed this information.
Information updated: January 2024
A selection of first aid information for seizures including how to put someone into the recovery position and what to do if someone is in 'status'.
How you can best help someone during a seizure depends on what type of seizure they have and how it affects them. On this page you'll find information on what the different types of seizures are and how to treat them.
Although most people do not hurt themselves during a seizure, sometimes seizures can cause injuries.