Focal Seizures

April 8, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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A focal seizure is a term that has come to replace partial seizure in describing one of the two main groups of seizures. Seizures can be classified as either general seizures or focal seizures, depending on the part of the brain where they originate.

If your child has begun to experience seizures or is dealing with a new type, it can be a scary and confusing experience. The following information can help you better understand focal seizures, including types, signs, treatment, and care needs.

What is a Focal Seizure?

A focal seizure describes any seizure that begins in one part of the brain. This is distinct from a general seizure, which encompasses all of the brain. A focal seizure can develop into a general seizure.

These seizures are usually brief in duration and are typically treated with medication, dietary therapy, and other options.

Types of Focal Seizures

There are two main types of focal seizures, simple focal seizures, also called either auras or focal onset aware seizures, and complex focal seizures, also known as focal onset impaired awareness seizures.

The type of focal seizure being experienced affects the duration, specific symptoms, and potential for injury or endangerment. Features of these types of focal seizures include:

  • Simple focal seizures: These seizures, or auras, do not involve loss of awareness but can involve sensory issues, motor issues, changes in blood pressure or heart rhythm, and changes in mood such as anxiety or even deja vu. Doctors can identify which part of the brain simple focal seizures develop in, based on the symptoms. For example, if motor skills are affected more prominently on one side of the body, it is an indicator of where in the brain the focal seizure is occurring.
  • Complex focal seizures: Complex focal seizures are very often preceded by a simple focal seizure. These seizures involve a loss of awareness accompanied by automated repetitive movements such as lip-smacking, biting, grunting, or shouting. Complex focal seizures generally develop in either the frontal lobe or temporal lobe of the brain.

Both types of focal seizures will usually pass in a short period of time, anywhere from two to five minutes. Focal seizures can be self-contained or develop into generalized seizures, including tonic-clonic seizures, which are what most people associate with this condition.

Focal Seizure Signs

The earliest signs of a focal seizure can include blank stares, changes in mood, or experiencing sensory abnormalities such as perceiving a smell. Recognizing these signs can help both the person having a seizure and any caregivers or other people prepare as much as possible.

Focal Seizure Causes

If any child begins to experience seizures or seizure-like symptoms, he or she should receive immediate medical attention to diagnose the cause and develop a treatment plan. Focal seizures can be caused by epilepsy, other seizure disorders, or other causes entirely. It’s essential for a physician to rule out potential brain issues.

Diagnosing Focal Seizures

Like other types of seizures, doctors will perform a series of steps to identify the potential causes and rule out other conditions. Diagnostic steps for focal seizures include:

  • Questions about specific symptoms and onset of the focal seizure
  • A review of the child’s health and medical history, as well as the family’s
  • A physical examination
  • Diagnostic tests such as electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) to detect brain function and rule out other conditions

Focal Seizure Treatment Options

In most cases, seizures including both focal and general seizures are treated with a combination of the following options:

  • Anti-seizure medications, including anticonvulsants such as ethosuximide (Zarontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), and valproic acid (Depakene)
  • Dietary changes, such as increasing protein and fat intake, which should always be performed with close supervision of a doctor or licensed nutritionist
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
  • Counseling for emotional and mental health issues that may be present as a result of the seizures

Caring for Children with Focal Seizures

In many situations, children and families dealing with seizures often seek out pediatric home health services. From balancing schedules to providing respite care, a qualified and experienced nurse can provide the care and attention your child deserves. Services can include dispensing and monitoring medication administration, accompanying children to appointments, providing 1:1 care and supervising the environment, and providing physician-ordered treatments such as seizure assessment and treatment.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.