Epilepsy Talk

Popular TV Dramas Portray First Aid For Seizures Inaccurately… | July 7, 2019


This enlightening (and scary) article came from “Medical News Today”…

“Research from Canada shows that almost half of the time, doctors and nurses on popular TV medical dramas respond inappropriately to seizures, suggesting that watching TV is not the best way to learn what to do if you are present when someone has a seizure.

Study author Andrew Moeller said in a statement that TV drama is a powerful medium for educating the public about how to deal with first aid and seizures, but he and his colleagues found that half of the time the public is being misinformed.

For the study, the researchers screened all episodes of the higher-rated US medical dramas, namely:

Grey’s Anatomy,
House, MD,
Private Practice,
and the last 5 seasons of ER.

They found 59 seizures depicted in a total of 327 episodes. 51 of the seizures took place in a hospital, and nearly all the first aid was administered by “nurses” and “doctors”.

They counted 25 cases, nearly 46% of the time, of seizures handled incorrectly by either holding the person down, trying to stop the involuntary movements, or putting things in the person’s mouth: all mythical measures to manage seizures.

They found 17 cases, or 29% of the time, of seizures handled correctly, and 15 (25%) of cases where they couldn’t establish whether the first aid given was appropriate or not.

In a statement, Moeller described their findings as, a “call to action” and urged people with epilepsy to: “Lobby the television industry to adhere to guidelines for first aid management of seizures.”


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  1. Stress from other people can bring on epileptic attacks

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Lance Minnis — July 7, 2019 @ 6:31 PM

    • You bet. Stress is the number #1 seizure trigger…whatever kind of stress it is.

      It can increase cortisol, known as “the stress hormone” because cortisol is secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress.

      And, as you may imagine, it’s responsible for several stress-related changes in the body which also may influence seizure activity.

      Negative emotions related to stress, such as anger, worry or fright, may also cause seizures. This happens because the limbic system, the portion of the brain that regulates emotion, is one of the most common places for seizures to begin. You’ll probably find that you have more seizures during or after periods of anxiety or stress.

      That goes for toxic people who do toxic things, also.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 7, 2019 @ 6:47 PM

  2. Just today I had to deal with a lot of misinformed people when a friend of mine had a seizure just after church. She has petit mal absence seizures. We have known each other for decades and I’ve seen quite a few of her seizures. I was out of the room and came back to find all this hubbub around my friend. People were fluttering and fussing all over the place and calling ambulances, etc. They thought she was having a stroke. I had to cut through all the commotion to explain what was going on to the fluttering folks but the reply was, “She can’t possibly have had a seizure. There was no shaking or twitching, just a blank stare and she couldn’t talk.” Textbook description of an absence seizure but the only kind of seizure people know about is the hollywood depiction of people flopping around and shaking.
    All that fluttering and fussing is the last thing a person who has just had a seizure needs. I walked her home and saw her safely inside by which time she was fine. She didn’t need to be hustled into an ambulance, have an IV shoved in her arm, and be subjected to lights and sirens.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by paleobird — July 7, 2019 @ 7:29 PM

    • Oy. Paleo, you’re a goddess. I just wish everybody else wasn’t so stupid or to put it more kindly — misinformed and uninformed.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 7, 2019 @ 7:36 PM

      • Their hearts were in the right places and they wanted to help but they just didn’t get it that their actions were incredibly unhelpful.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by paleobird — July 7, 2019 @ 7:51 PM

  3. I think that deep in their hearts of hearts, people DO want to help. But they’re paralyzed by fear and lack of information, so they either overreact or walk away.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 7, 2019 @ 8:09 PM

    • Yep, it tends to be one extreme or the other. Either pretend they didn’t see anything and walk away or dive in and overreact on incomplete and misinformed ideas.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by paleobird — July 7, 2019 @ 9:25 PM

  4. Phylis, thank you for opening up a helpful discussion about epilepsy that hopefully will add to correct information and how stress affects us. Paleo’s insight into church people is so accurate too. Please allow me to combine those two subjects. I can write that because my first seizure was at church in the pulpit. I simply stopped preaching, did not speak at all, and picked back up 45 seconds later being completely unaware that I had just had a seizure though feeling rather strange. Preaching is a stress to me, though a positive one. I have to take precaution when I preach to lower my level of stress. Thank you for adding to the correct information about epilepsy that stress – whatever the kind – can trigger a seizure. George

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by George Choyce — July 7, 2019 @ 8:26 PM

    • Oh, goodness. How did the congregation react?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by paleobird — July 7, 2019 @ 9:26 PM

  5. Classic DENIAL. No one even acknowled that anything had taken place. Only the Associate Priest came into my office after the service, and she asked if I was ok. I looked at her in total confusion. She went on to describe what had happened. I went into total denial myself. Also, the common information or misinformation that I had on the whole subject of seizures made the situation even stranger than it already was. My misunderstanding of seizures was based out of the television shows often misinformation about simplisitc categories of petit mal and grand mal seizures. The bottom line was that the congregation did not know what to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by George Choyce — July 7, 2019 @ 10:21 PM

    • George, few people know about you, your bravery, your book, your courage and your very huge heart.

      I’m not saying that the seizure was a good thing. Heavens, no.

      But on the other side of the coin, look at the self realization, self awareness and selflessness it brought you to.

      You are a dear, dear man, with so much to share.

      I wish you’d join us more often.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 7, 2019 @ 10:44 PM

  6. Wow! I’ve never noticed this when watching seizures on tv I always watch the person seizing. I’ll keep my eye out going forward!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Brooke Epps — February 11, 2023 @ 10:39 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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