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Thread: fainting or siezure?

  1. #1
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    fainting or siezure?

    Last night my son woke at 2 am complaining of a headache. He is C2 complete and was breathing on his diaphram pacer. He told the attendent to put him back on his ventilator. As soon as she did he became unconcience with his eyes open and moaning but unresponsive.His body arched up and his lips were white.After so many seconds he came to and said "I must have passed out"
    My question is, did he faint or have a siezure?
    Not sure what the difference is.
    Could it have been breathing on the pacer which is negative pressure breathing and then switching to the vent (positive pressure) caused AD? Although he switches many times with no incident.
    Another ?, If this happens again what is the best thing to do?

  2. #2
    NancyR - From your description, it seems more likely that your son's episode was a seizure. However, I would not wait for another episode. You need to contact your son's SCI doctor and have him evaluated. I do not know whether this could have been triggered by AD with rapidly changing BP levels but it needs medical assessment. It is important to remember that the general rule for persons living with SCI is that the body does not have the usual warning signs and symptoms that were available prior to injury. Therefore, any new or unusual symptoms in the SCI person need evaluating.

    I will also ask Dr. Young to respond to this post. I have included links to information on both fainting and seizures.

    Fainting

    seizures CRF

  3. #3
    NancyR,

    It is not clear from your description whether your son had a seizure or fainted. The fact that he had a headache at 2AM suggests that he may have been awaken by an episode of AD. When he is placed on the respirator, is the diaphragm pacer switched off or timed with the respirator? It is difficult to explain what happened, based on placing him on the ventilator. However, I don't think that this is a seizure based on the following pieces of information that you provided:
    1. He woke up within seconds (or minutes). If he had a gran mal seizure, he would be dazed and confused for a longer period of time.
    2. A seizure in the brain would not cause arching of the body in a person with a C2 injury. The manifestations of a seizure in a person with high spinal cord injury would only be above the injury site. The presence of the arching would be more consistent with spasm in the lower spinal cord, perhaps associated with whatever that initiated an autonomic dysreflexic episode.

    I agree with CRF that it would be important to get your son evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. If this is indeed related to an AD episode, it would be important to develop some kind of procedure for determining the presence of AD (i.e. blood pressure measurement) and what to do about it.

    Wise.

  4. #4
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    Thank you for your replys.
    When my son came to, he was not dazed or confused so this does sound like fainting.
    Good point, Dr. Young, that when the attendent switched him to the vent he must have just gotten a breath from the pacer and then a breath from the vent. So the vent would have been pushing air in as he was exhaling. More care needs to be used when switching from now on.

  5. #5
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
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    NancyR - just to add, my husband is C4 injured and had a seizure last September. His seizing was limited to above the injury level, just as Wise mentioned (interesting, I didn't know that was a medical fact, I just knew he was seizing because he was spasming *above* his injury level only, not below). I hope you get to the bottom of it shortly as it is scary for all involved!

    Ami

    p.s. We never did figure out what caused Chad's seizure.

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