A number of injuries or conditions can result in seizure disorders. Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder. Seizures can vary from momentary loss of attention to grand mal seizures which result in the severe loss of motor control and awareness. Seizures can be triggered in people with photosensitive epilepsy by rapidly flashing lights.

The main symptoms of epilepsy are repeated seizures. Most people have a consistent pattern of symptoms.

Doctors classify seizures by how much of the brain is affected. There are:

  • partial (or focal) seizures (both simple and complex) – where only a small part of the brain is affected
  • generalised seizures – where most or all of the brain is affected

Symptoms of a simple partial seizure (in which one remains fully conscious throughout) can include:

  • a “rising” feeling in your stomach, such as that when on a fairground ride
  • an intense feeling that events have happened before (déjà vu)
  • experiencing an unusual smell or taste
  • a tingling sensation, or “pins and needles”, in your arms and legs
  • a sudden intense feeling of fear or joy
  • stiffness or twitching in part of the body, such as an arm or hand

These seizures are sometimes known as “warnings” because they can be a sign that another type of seizure is on its way.

Complex partial seizures are when one loses their sense of awareness and can’t remember what happened after the seizure has passed.

The symptoms of a complex partial seizure normally involve more regular behaviour such as:

  • smacking your lips
  • rubbing your hands
  • making random noises
  • moving your arms around
  • picking at clothes
  • fiddling with objects
  • adopting an unusual posture
  • chewing or swallowing

For a list of the types of generalised seizures (where most or all the brain is affected) consisting vastly of the symptoms listed above, see:


AJ-Books-2-2400px Impact on Study:


  • May cause great disturbances in lectures and seminars etc.
  • May be potentially life-threatening if in the lab or near potential physical danger.

color-icons-BW-help-2400px How to Help:

  • Avoid the use of flash lighting, or mention it as a warning
  • Protect subject from injury by removing any dangerous or potentially harmful objects nearby, and cushioning their head with your hands or soft material
  • Do not restrain them or attempt to move them (unless they are in immediate danger) and don’t put anything in their mouth
  • Stay calm, and stay with them until they regain consciousness
  • When the convulsions have stopped, put them into the recovery position until they have recovered

When to call an ambulance:

It will not usually be necessary to call an ambulance after a seizure. However, if:

  • the seizure has not stopped after five minutes
  • the person has more than one seizure without recovering in between
  • the person is injured, has breathing problems, or needs emergency medical attention for any other reason
  • the person’s behaviour after a seizure is unsafe

Use the SafeZone app ( to alert Security or call 333 from an internal phone or ring 999 from a mobile then 01792 290357 to notify Security on the Park Campus or 01792 606010 for the Bay Campus.

For more information: