SEIZURES [ DELICATE BALANCE – THE BRAIN’S EQUILIBRIUM ( THE NERVOUS SYSTEM ) ]
Abnormal electrical activity in the brain produces seizures, which have a broad range of manifestations. Some are so minor that they may occur unnoticed, while others can cause violent spasms and convulsions. Victims may even lose consciousness. They can be a one time event or occur frequently.
A number of things can cause seizures: Serious conditions like strokes, brain tumors, and severe head injuries can generate them, as well as other seemingly harmless things like bright, rapidly flashing lights and low blood sugar.
There are two general types of seizures: generalized and partial. Generalized seIZures involve both sides of the brain from the beginning of an episode while partial seizures begin in specific regions of the brain and may spread to the entire brain. Generalized seizures have several subtypes, from tonicclonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal) to absence seizures (also known as petit mal).
FIRST THEY felt hyperactive and frenzied. Then their body motions became more violent, and they would twitch and convulse. Finally, they fell into a deep trance. And there they remained, these sufferers of the disease encephalitis lethargica, until neuroscientist Oliver Sacks found them in the 1960s-40 years later. As depicted in the movie Awakenings (1990), Sacks gave them L-dopa, which the brain transforms into dopamine. The dopamine levels in the postencephalitic patients had been greatly diminished by their disease. The patients woke up from their stupor, and health seemed to be restored to them.
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