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Focus on complex focal seizures

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Focus on complex focal seizures

In the fifth of a new series of blogs Epilepsy Society's Ben O'Keefe clears up some misconceptions around epilepsy and the different epileptic seizures that can occur.

In last week's blog I talked about simple focal seizures In case you missed it, during a simple focal seizure a small area of one of the lobes in the brain will be affected, the person will usually remain conscious and have some memory of the seizure. The lobe that is affected will determine what that person will experience during their seizure. Thanks again for all your comments, I'm really glad that the videos are helping some of you explain your epilepsy to other people.

Last week celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey said having epilepsy wasn't a problem after he was contacted on Twitter by a chef who said he had been fired after mentioning that he had epilepsy. Understanding how a person's epilepsy effects them is the start of knowing what would be safe for them to do at work. However, people not knowing about the different types of seizures can mean that people with epilepsy are sometimes treated unfairly.

This week I am going to look at complex focal seizures.

A complex focal seizure affects a bigger part of one side of the brain than simple focal seizures. The person's consciousness will be affected and they may be confused. During the seizure, the person might make strange or repetitive movements and they may wander around while not being aware of what they are doing. 

In the video below a woman has a complex focal seizure while she is browsing in a shop.

Complex focal seizures usually happen in the temporal lobes and a person might:

  • fiddle with clothing or pick up objects for no reason
  • make chewing or lip-smacking movements
  • mutter or repeat words that don't make sense
  • wander around in a confused way

These types of seizures could last for around two or three minutes.

If a person has frontal lobe complex seizure they may:

  • let out a loud cry or scream
  • make unusual postures or movements (kicking for example)

Complex focal seizures in the parietal or occipital lobes are less common but will affect the person's sense or vision and will normally last for around 15 - 30 seconds.

Look out for my blog next week on tonic seizures.

For more information on seizures