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Seizures 101: 10 tips for helping someone through a convulsive seizure

(NC)—It could be a loved one, a coworker or a stranger on the street. If you witness someone having a convulsive seizure, are you prepared to assist and provide support?

During a convulsive seizure, the individual loses consciousness and falls to the ground. Initially, the body is rigid, but then the arms and legs twitch or jerk rhythmically.

“Witnessing someone having a seizure can be a startling thing,” says Dr. Fred Andermann, Professor in Neurology and Pediatrics, McGill University, and Epileptologist, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. “Recognizing an individual's need for assistance and coming to their aid plays a critical role in ensuring their safety.”

Dr. Andermann provides steps to follow if you encounter someone having a convulsive seizure.

1. Remain calm.

2. Explain to bystanders that the person is having a seizure, and ask them to stand back.

3. Clear the area of dangerous objects to reduce the threat of injury.

4. Support the person's head and neck with something soft, like a pillow or jacket.

5. Roll the person onto their side to prevent choking or airway blockages.

6. Do not put anything in the person's mouth.

7. Do not attempt to hold the person down.

8. Note the length of the seizure, and call 911 if it lasts longer than five minutes.

9. Be sensitive and supportive throughout, and speak gently to calm the person when they awake.

10. Stay with the person until they are fully alert and thinking clearly.

More information about seizures and first aid for non-convulsive seizures is available at

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Toronto, ON, Canada
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