New classifications 

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In March 2017 the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), a group of the world's leading epilepsy professionals, introduced a new method to group seizures

This gives doctors a more accurate way to describe a person's seizures and helps them to prescribe the most appropriate treatments.

Seizures are divided into groups depending on:

• where they start in the brain (onset)

• whether or not a person's awareness is affected

• whether or not seizures involve other symptoms, such as movement

Depending on where they start, seizures are described as being focal onset, generalised onset or unknown onset.

Focal Onset

The term focal seizure has been used for years, but the public and many professionals will still be using the term partial seizures. In this 2017 Classification, focal seizures will replace partial seizures and refer to those that start in an area or network on one side of the brain

The seizure may start on the surface of the brain or may emulate in deeper areas, the seizure could be very localized or spread to larger areas. Sometimes more than one network is involved.

Generalised Onset

Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain or large networks of cells on both sides from the beginning of the event

The networks can be on the surface of the brain or involve deeper areas.

Generalized seizures don’t need to involve the entire brain, just part of both sides.

Unknown Onset

If the beginning of the seizure is not clear it may be of unknown onset

As more information becomes available over time or through testing, the type of seizure may be changed to other types of seizures either Focal Onset and or Generalised Onset.

Seizures and Epilepsy

The brain has millions of nerve cells (neurones) which control how we think, move and feel

Nerves do this bypassing electrical signals to each other

If the signals are disrupted or too many signals sent at once - it will cause a seizure.

Seizures and Epilepsy

It is understandable that individuals may want to know what is causing their seizures, but sometimes it can be hard to find out why seizures have started. Sometimes there is a clear cause for seizures, for example, if someone has damage to the brain from a difficult birth, or an infection such as meningitis, or they have had a stroke or a head injury

For some, a naturally low resistance to having seizures (a low ‘seizure threshold’) can be in their genetic make-up. Some people have another condition that causes seizures, such as tuberous sclerosis (benign tumours). Sometimes there is no obvious cause for seizures to start.