Focal aware seizures

First aid for seizures: Focal aware seizures

We continue our blog series looking at first aid for seizures to make people aware of how they can help someone who is having a seizure.

A common myth we come across on our helpline is that all seizures are the same. There are, in fact, many different types of seizures.

Some seizures only affect one part of the brain, others start in one part and spread across the whole of the brain, and others immediately affect the whole of the brain.

Seizure first aid is one of the most effective measures anyone can take to keep a person safe during and after a seizure.

In this blog, we look at first aid for focal aware seizures.


What is a focal aware seizure?

A focal aware seizure used to be known as a simple partial seizure. It affects one area of the brain only.

What happens during the seizure depends on which part of the brain is involved.

The person may feel an unusual movement, such as twitching in an arm, or experience a sensation or vision, like seeing strange colours.

They may also feel ‘dreamy’, sick, or experience emotions such as fear or anger. These feelings are usually short-lived.

People know the seizure is happening but can’t stop it. Focal aware seizures can be unsettling as the person remains fully conscious during the seizure.

Some people get a focal aware seizure as a warning of a bigger seizure to come. This is known as an aura sensation or seizure warning.

This warning can allow a person to place themselves in a safer position such as sitting down, to reduce the risk of injury, or call for help.


What to do if someone has a focal aware seizure

  • Stay with the person
  • Remove harmful objects if an arm or leg movement could bump into them.
  • Give support until the seizure has passed
  • Speak quietly and be reassuring
  • Help the person to a safe place in case a different type of seizure follows.

For more information, please check out our first aid for seizures factsheet by clicking here.