What are Simple Partial Seizures?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Simple partial seizures are anomalies in the brain caused by abnormal electrical brain activity. Seizures, sometimes called convulsions, can change behavior patterns in a number of ways. If an individual has repeated episodes of spontaneous seizures, he or she may have epilepsy. In this type of case, the individual may be classified as having epilepsy simple partial seizures. The symptoms of a person with these kinds of seizures can change each time he or she suffers the disturbance.

Unlike many kinds of seizures, simple partial seizures only affect one specific part of the brain. For this reason, these types of seizures generally belong in the category of epilepsy known as focal or partial epilepsy. The condition is named as such because the seizure originates from one focused portion of the brain. In many cases, a simple partial seizure is the only type of seizure a person may experience. At times though, the condition can progress to generalized seizures, in which the entire surface area of the brain becomes affected.


There can be different factors that lead to simple partial seizures. Sometimes a brain injury caused by an accident or a stroke can lead to the problem. Genetics can also be a factor, as some types of epilepsy appear to run in families, affecting several members. Seizures can also be caused by different health disorders. Commonly, individuals with dementia, brain tumors, low blood sugar, infections and different types of organ failure can have these brain disturbances as well.

Simple partial seizures are unique because they do not cause an individual to lose consciousness and most people remain entirely alert during the seizure. Although, the person may still experience various simple partial seizure symptoms. Frequently, an individual may experience stiffening, jerking or twitching in face, leg, arm, hand or foot. He or she may experience different muscle contractions as well. The person's head may also start to move uncontrollably.

Often, individuals with these types of seizures will have hallucinations and see, smell and hear things that are not there. Many people may have visual disturbances and see flashing or spots of light or darkness. After the seizure has passed, behavioral changes may exist. The person may be confused, become angry or cry.

Doctors may order an electroencephalogram (EEG) to diagnose these seizures. This is a type of test which records the activity of electrical brain signals. Sometimes, doctors record patients undergoing this type of test on video over the course of a night in case a seizure occurs. This may be done for a visual inspection of what happens to the person during a seizure. In most cases, simple partial seizures treatment will generally include an anti-seizure medication.


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