Generalized Seizures

Generalized seizures begin with a widespread, excessive electrical discharge involving most or all of the brain at the same time. Below are several types of generalized seizures.

Absence Seizure

A brief episode of staring usually lasting less than 10 seconds sometimes associated with blinking or automatic movements of the hands or mouth; formerly called petit mal seizures.

Atypical Absence Seizure

A staring episode that usually lasts longer than 10 seconds, that is often indistinguishable from a typical absence seizure except that these seizures usually occur in children who also have other types of seizure, lower than average intelligence, and difficult to control epilepsy.

Myoclonic Seizure

A brief jerk or series of jerks that may involve a small part of the body such as a single finger, hand or foot, or may involve both sides of the body simultaneously, most often the shoulders or upper arms.

Atonic Seizure

A sudden loss of muscle tone throughout most or all of the body which may cause the head to drop suddenly, objects to fall from the hands, or the person to fall to the ground.

Clonic Seizure

Rhythmic jerking movements of body parts such as the arms or legs.

Tonic Seizure

A stiffening of the body and/or limb, often resulting in a fall if the patient is standing. When falls occur, this seizure type is often confused with atonic seizures.

Tonic-Clonic Seizure

Whole body stiffening with simultaneous rhythmic jerking of the arms and legs, usually lasting at least one minute and also including loss of consciousness. After this type of seizure, the patient typically enters a “postictal” state of confusion and fatigue lasting 30 minutes or longer. Also known as a “grand mal” seizure.