In this section
It is quite common for children who have had a
brain injury to have a seizure (fit or convulsion) soon after their injury. Sometimes
medication (anticonvulsant) is needed to help prevent further
seizures. During a seizure, the most important thing to remember is
to keep your child's airways open.
Seizures occur when the normal electrical
signals within the brain misfire. They usually affect a child's
awareness of their surroundings or their actions for a short period
of time. The electrical signals usually return to normal within a
few seconds or a few minutes and the seizure will then stop.
Seizures usually occur without warning and without the child being
aware of what is happening. Medications are often prescribed to
help prevent further seizures. This medication is often given
directly into the veins (intravenous or IV) to allow it to act quickly. After the child
becomes more aware and is swallowing safely they can take tablets
or syrup. If seizures continue to occur, anticonvulsant drugs will
need to be given for a longer period of time.
There are several different types of seizures.
Generalised seizures happen when the whole brain is misfiring, and
partial seizures when one part of the brain is affected. Some of
the most common types of seizures are:
It is important to carefully observe the
child's behaviour at the time of the suspected seizure. The observations should
Some specific tests will help determine the
cause of the seizures. The number and types of tests used to
diagnose epilepsy are different for each patient. An
electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures electrical
activity in the brain and is frequently used to help diagnose
epilepsy. Some other common tests include CAT and MRI scans. It may
be necessary for some children to be sedated so that these scans
can be done accurately.
Once it is decided that a child requires
treatment for their seizures, medication is prescribed. The type of drug will
depend on the type of seizures (generalised or partial). If
possible, a single drug such as carbamazepine, valproate,
gabapentin, phenytoin, topiramate or lamotrigine is given. Most children will respond well to medication. Anticonvulsant medications are usually
very effective. Sometimes they may have side effects such as
drowsiness and weight gain. Some children will also need to be checked with follow up blood
Surgery for epilepsy in children is considered
only in those who are not helped by medication and whose seizures
severely affect their quality of life and development. Surgery is
done only in carefully selected patients, usually those with a
known focus (part of the brain) that is responsible for causing the
Some ways you may help your child more fully
understand their condition are to:
After the seizure, your child may fall
into a deep sleep. This is normal so do not try to wake them. Do not
attempt to give any food or drink until they are awake and
Following a seizure, particularly if it is a
first or unexplained seizure, call your doctor or emergency
medical service for instructions. Your child will usually need to
be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.
It is important that your child avoids activities such as swimming, climbing trees and driving following a seizure, until they are reviewed by a doctor.
If breathing is troubled or the
seizure lasts longer than a few minutes you should call 000 for an
Developed by The Royal Children's
Hospital Paediatric Rehabilitation Service based on information from the Brain
Injury Service at Westmead Children’s Hospital. We acknowledge the input of RCH
consumers and carers.
Reviewed September 2020.
Kids Health Info is supported by
The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.