First Aid for Generalized Tonic Clonic (Grand Mal) Seizures


In a generalized tonic clonic seizure the whole brain is affecting from the beginning. In (a, at right) there is a cry and loss of consciousness, arms flex up then extend in (b) and remain rigid (the tonic phase) for a few seconds. A series of jerking movements take place (the clonic phase) as muscles contract and relax together. In (c) the jerking is slowing down and will eventually stop. In (d) the man has been placed on his side to aid breathing and to keep the airway clear.

During a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, the person suddenly falls to the ground and has a convulsive seizure. It is essential to protect him or her from injury. Cradle the head or place something soft under it, a towel or your hand, for example. Remove all dangerous objects. A bystander can do nothing to prevent or terminate an attack. At the end of the seizure, make sure the mouth is cleared of food and saliva by turning the person on his or her side to provide an open airway and allow fluids to drain. If the person assisting remains calm, the person having the seizure will be reassured when he or she regains consciousness.

Breathing almost always resumes spontaneously after a convulsive seizure. Failure to resume breathing signals a complication of the seizure such as a blocked airway, heart attack or severe head or neck injury. In these unusual circumstances, CPR must start immediately. If repeated seizures occur, or if a single seizure lasts longer than five minutes, the person should be taken to a medical facility immediately. Prolonged or repeated seizures may suggest status epilepticus (nonstop seizures), which requires emergency medical treatment.


When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic clonic (grand mal) seizures, these are the key things to remember:



1. Convulsions- (you are currently on this page...)

2. Non-convulsions

3. Special Situations

4. Head Injury

5. Baby Sitters

6. Prolonged Seizures

7. Seniors


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