Simple Partial Seizures
People who have simple partial seizures do not lose consciousness. However, movement, emotions, sensations and feelings can be affected.
However, some people, although fully aware of what's going on, find they can't speak or move until the seizure is over. They remain awake and aware throughout. Sometimes they can talk quite normally to other people during the seizure. And they can usually remember exactly what happened to them while it was going on. However, simple partial seizures can affect movement, emotion, sensations and feelings in unusual and sometimes even frightening ways.
Figure at left: A simple partial seizure with motor symptoms. Here the neuronal discharge begins in the motor strip in the right hemisphere of the brain, affecting first one muscle then another on the left side of the body as it spreads. In (a) first the fingers then the hand and arm are jerking. In (b) it has spread to the upper shoulder. In (c) the woman's head is drawn towards her shoulder. In (d) the leg is drawn up. The woman remains conscious but unable to prevent her muscles' response to the excessive stimulation they are receiving from her brain.
Movement: Uncontrolled movements can occur in just about any part of the body. Eyes may move from side to side; there may be blinking, unusual movements of the tongue, or twitching of the face.
Some simple partial seizures start out with shaking of a hand or foot which then spreads to involve an arm or a leg or even one whole side of the body.
Emotions: A sudden feeling of fear or a sense that something terrible is about to happen may be caused by a simple partial seizure in the part of the brain which controls those emotions.
In rare cases, partial seizures can produce feelings of anger and rage, or even sudden joy and happiness.
Sensations: All five senses—touch, hearing, taste, smell and sight—are controlled by various areas of the brain. Remember that an episodic feeling of fear or other feelings is usually not caused by a seizure.
Simple partial seizures in these areas can produce odd sensations such as a sense of a breeze on the skin; unusual hissing, buzzing or ringing sounds; voices that are not really there; unpleasant tastes; strange smells (also usually unpleasant); and, perhaps most upsetting of all, distortions in the way things look.
For example, a room may suddenly seem narrower or wider than it really is. Objects may seem to move closer or get farther away. Part of the body may appear to change in size or shape.
If the area of the brain involved with memory is affected, there may be disturbing visions of people and places from the past.
Sudden nausea or an odd, rising feeling in the stomach is quite common. Stomach pain also may, in some cases, be caused by simple partial seizures.
Episodes of sudden sweating, flushing, becoming pale or having the sensation of goosebumps are also possible.
Some people even report having out of body experiences during this type of seizure. Time may seem distorted as well.
In many ways, our usual, comfortable sense of familiar things and places may be disrupted by a simple partial seizure.
Well-known places may suddenly look unfamiliar. On the other hand, new places and events may seem familiar or as if they've happened before, a feeling called déjà vu.
Simple partial seizures can also produce sudden, uncontrolled bursts of laughter or crying.