Seizures - Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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A seizure happens when the electrical system of the brain gets out of control and instead of discharging itself in a controlled manner, the brain cells fire off randomly and continuously. The end result is a large surge of electrical energy throughout the brain, leading to muscle contractions and a loss of consciousness.
Sometimes only part of the brain is affected. The patient may be conscious with clouded awareness, a lack of communication and movements that are misdirected, disorganized and uncontrolled.
Most seizures burn out over a couple of minutes, even though the confusion phase may last longer. There are different types of epilepsy as defined by the type of seizures, their length and other factors. Some develop in infancy, while others only develop after a major trauma. They respond to different treatments.
The brain is the source of epilepsy even though it can be seen at several parts of the body. The part of the body affected depends on the location in the brain the electrical activity is. Partial seizures will show up as twitching of a part of the face or extremity, depending on whether or not the part of the brain affected also affects those areas of the body.
The types of seizures are many. Some people have just one type of seizure, while others have several types of seizures or one type of seizure flowing into another type of seizure. They differ in the ways that they connect with the brain and with how much brain activity is affected. The types of seizures include the following:
- Generalized types of seizures - tonic clonic. This involves a loss of consciousness with tonic clonic activity of all the muscles.
- Absence seizures. This involves spacing out, usually without spasms of the muscles.
- Myoclonic seizures - this involves spasms of the muscles and normal consciousness.
- Partial seizures involve muscle spasms of some of the muscles and not others.
- Status epilepticus. This involves a prolonged seizure of any type.
Epilepsy syndromes are particular characteristics of seizures and their patterns and don’t pay as much attention to what the seizure looks like. They are classified according to the number of characteristics involved, the type of seizure, they specific EEG recordings involved, the clinical features, including the behavior patterns during the seizures, the expected course of the seizure and the precipitating factors of the seizures. Each syndrome has an expected response to treatment and particular genetic factors.
Seizures are symptoms of abnormal function of the brain. The cause is not usually known except in cases of very young children and older people. About 70 percent of all cases of epilepsy have no obvious etiology. Lack of oxygen at the time of birth can lead to epilepsy in babies and children. There can be genetic conditions like tuberous sclerosis can trigger epilepsy as can brain tumors. Lead poisoning in chldren can cause epilepsy. Brain infections like encephalitis and meningitis can trigger a situation of epilepsy.
Cryptogenic seizures are what epilepsy is called when no cause for the seizure is known. They are called primary seizures or idiopathic seizures when a genetic cause of the seizures is suspected.
Triggers for seizures don't have to happen. There can be lifestyle factors that play into getting seizures, such as failure to take the seizure medication. Alcohol can trigger seizures, especially in someone who has a seizure disorder. Other things can include taking in substances, stress, sleep dysfunction, photosensitivity, and hormone fluctuations. When a person has a particular trigger, they usually have the same trigger over again in the future.
One of the most severe forms of seizure disorders is called status epilepticus. This involves having a seizure that begins but does not end for several minutes to longer. By definition, status epilepticus can occur if the seizure does not quit after five minutes. Medication is often needed in the form of diazepam or phenytoin in order to stop the seizure. Status epilepticus is a complication of not getting a seizure under control.
Treatments for seizures include phenytoin, benzodiazepines and carbamazepine medication.
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The medical profession which includes doctors, nurses and hospital technicians usually provides a caring service with a high standard of excellence however there are occasions when things do go wrong. Our litigation service is completely free and our lawyers will deal with your case using a contingency fee arrangement which means that if you don't succeed in receiving a financial settlement then your seizure lawyer won't get paid.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here