Assist a Casualty during a Seizure or Convulsion

This video was originally produced by the US Army in 1995 as a training aid for medical personnel. It has been reformatted by the Brookside Associates for general medical education.

True seizures, also called epileptic seizures, are caused by the sudden, uncontrolled discharge of a group of neurons in the cerebral cortex. These may affect the entire cortex, causing a generalized seizure, or may begin focally or regionally, and cause a partial seizure.

An epileptic seizure can be triggered by a single event, or may be due to a chronic tendency (diathesis) to cause seizures. Epilepsy is a condition with recurring epileptic seizures.

The following three cardinal characteristics set seizures apart from other episodic behaviors or sudden losses of function, regardless of the cause or type of seizure: 

  • Sudden or abrupt onset. 
  • Stereotype. 
  • Irrelevance to the environment or situation.

From Operational Medicine 2001

Education and Training