Section I. REVIEW OF EPILEPSY
8-1. BASIC DEFINITIONS
Before studying about anticonvulsants, you should review/study the definitions
that relate to the topic:
a. Epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic convulsive disorder of cerebral function.
Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent attacks of motor, sensory, psychic, or autonomic
nature. The attacks may involve changes in the state of patient consciousness and are
usually sudden in onset and brief.
b. Convulsion. A convulsion is a violent involuntary contraction or series of
contractions of the voluntary muscles. There are two types of convulsions.
(1) Clonic convulsions. A clonic convulsion has alternating periods of
contraction and relaxation of the voluntary muscles.
(2) Tonic convulsions. A tonic convulsion is a state of sustained contraction
of voluntary muscles.
8-2. TYPES OF EPILEPSY
There are four types of epilepsy. Certain signs and symptoms characterize each
a. Grand Mal. Grand Mal is the most common type of epilepsy. In this type of
epilepsy, the person often experiences an aura (this can consist of certain sounds, fear
discomfort) immediately before a seizure. Then the patient loss consciousness and has
tonic-clonic convulsions. The seizures generally last from 2 to 5 minutes.
b. Petit Mal. This type of epilepsy is most frequently found in children. Brief
periods of blank spells or loss of speech characterizes petit mal. During the seizures,
which usually last from 1 to 30 seconds, the person stops what he is doing and after the
seizure resumes what he was doing before the seizure. Many persons are not aware
that they have had a seizure.
c. Jacksonian (Focal). This type of epilepsy is rare. It is usually associated
with an organic lesion of a certain part of the brain (cerebral cortex). Jacksonian