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Being smart about seizures

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Have you ever seen someone having a seizure? Do you know the different types? How about what to look for? What do you do when someone has a seizure?

Those are just some of the questions to which Royal Oaks Elementary students learned the answers last week during a presentation by the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota on May 19.

"We want to get in there and teach them about seizures before something potentially happens," said Caroline Olstad of the Epilepsy Foundation.

Royal Oaks Elementary was named a Seizure Smart School following education of both students and staff.

"It's important, I think, because nowadays we have all ranges of health conditions at the school,"said Tina Feurer, a nurse at Royal Oaks Elementary. "It's no longer just dealing with Band-Aids."

What to know about seizures

A seizure is caused when nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed. Recurring seizures is known as a medical condition called epilepsy.

The four main types of seizures are: simple partial; complex partial; generalized tonic clonic; and absence.

Simple partial and complex partial are classified as seizures that cause people to become confused in addition to affecting their senses.

Generalized tonic clonic is defined as a seizure that causes a person to fall to the ground, where their arms and legs stiffen before shaking.

Absence seizures are very brief and include staring, confusion and blinking.

One in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime, Olstad said.

If someone has a seizure, some key things to know are: stay calm; time the seizure; do not restrain anyone having a seizure; do not put anything in a person's mouth; roll them on their side during a generalized tonic clonic seizure; and keep them away from any hazards.

A Seizure Smart School

In order to become a Seizure Smart School, both students and staff at Royal Oaks Elementary participated in presentations by Olstad.

While staff learned about what to look for, treatment options and how to react, students learned some of the basics about seizures.

Also, Olstad talked about acceptance and how it relates to seizures.

"Epilepsy is just one way that someone might be a little different," Olstad said. "We all have something that makes us different; we all like different things, we all look different from each other, we all have different hobbies and some of us have epilepsy."

Across Minnesota, about 135 schools have been named Seizure Smart Schools, Olstad said.

Feurer said she believed becoming a Seizure Smart School was important because not only does it prepare staff to help students who have seizures, but it also puts power in the hands of students.

"The goal is just informing," she said. "I don't think we give kids enough credit, but if we inform them they can take the information and do a lot with it — you hear about all these kids today who save lives."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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