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Foreword from National Hydrocephalus Foundation: Occasionally a hydrocephalus patient may develop a form of seizure activity, which is generally controlled by medication. Most of us “lay people” only know of one form, we thought it best to educate you in the various forms of seizures.

Seizures are divided into two majors groups: primary generalized seizures and partial seizures. Each group contains several seizure types, often defined by degree and whether the individual remains conscious or not.

PRIMARY GENERALIZED SEIZURES usually begin with a widespread electrical discharge that involves both sides of the brain at the same time. Types of primary generalized seizures include:

  • Absence Seizures, which are brief episodes of staring during which awareness and responsiveness are impaired.
  • Atypical Absence Seizures, which are periods of staring during which the individual is somewhat responsive.
  • Myoclonic Seizures, which are brief, shock-like jerks of a muscle or group of muscles.
  • Atonic Seizures, during which muscles suddenly lose strength. For example, eyelids may droop, the head may nod, and the person may drop things and fall to the ground.
  • Tonic Seizures, during which muscle tone is greatly increased and the body, arms, or legs make sudden stiffening movements.
  • Clonic Seizures, which involve rhythmic jerking movements of the arms and legs, sometimes on both sides of the body. Tiredness or confusion does not usually follow these seizures.
  • Tonic-Clonic Seizures, also known as grand mal seizures, involve the entire body and are what most people think of when they hear the word “seizure”. People often lose consciousness during tonic-clonic seizures.

PARTIAL SEIZURES begin with an electrical discharge in one area of the brain. They can have many different causes, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain infection, stroke, tumor, or changes in the way an area of the brain was formed before birth. Types of partial seizure include:

  • Simple Partial Seizures are localized to one area on one side of the brain, but may spread from there; consciousness remains intact.
  • Complex Partial Seizures can begin in any lobe of the brain, but cause altered awareness due to spreading of seizure activity.
  • Secondarily Generalized Seizures begin in one part of the brain, and then spread to involve both sides of the brain with associated loss of consciousness.

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