Safety measures

General guidelines

Because children experiencing epileptic seizures can hurt themselves, it is important to think of safety measures that can prevent injury. Check your child's room for furniture or sharp objects that could cause injury in the event of a seizure. Children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) often wear safety helmets to prevent injury during epileptic seizures.

Falls from tonic or atonic seizures (drop attacks) helmet

Helmets

Falls from tonic Tonic seizures show muscle stiffening, dilation of the pupils, and a change in breathing patterns. Tonic seizures usually last less than 20 seconds. Tonic seizures in people with LGS may become harder to control over time. or atonic Also called “drop attacks,” these seizures cause brief loss of muscle tone. Abrupt falls from these seizures are common. seizures (drop attacks) pose a serious risk of injury.1 A helmet might be a necessary precaution.1

Things to consider when purchasing a helmet:

  • If your child falls forward, buy a helmet with a face guard, face bar, or visor
  • If your child falls backward, buy a helmet that offers protection at the back of the head
  • Make sure the helmet has a secure chin strap that can be adjusted so the helmet fits snugly but is not uncomfortable2

Make sure to speak to your child's doctor about finding the right type of helmet to keep your child safe. Some professionals suggest avoiding bicycle, boxing, football, and baseball helmets because they do not meet all the criteria above.2 In general, hockey helmets are a good choice.

If your child often falls in the same direction, consider helmets that protect certain parts of the head better.2 For example, those who often fall forward may need better face protection.2

Caregivers may consider custom-fitted helmets, such as those made by Danmar Products, for people with mental and physical challenges. There may also be locally based companies and resources that offer appropriate solutions.

Home modifications for seizure safety

Home modifications

If your child uses a wheelchair, your home may need construction work to become accessible. This means more than putting a ramp on the front porch. Wheelchair accessibility may require widening doorways, rearranging furniture, and possibly remodeling certain rooms to allow for better access.3 For example, safety bars in the bathroom may be needed to assist your child getting in and out of the bathtub.4

Modest changes to your home can make life easier and safer. For example:

  • Install tub rails or seats to help prevent falls in the shower
  • Lower the temperature of your household's water to prevent burns5
  • Put an intercom in the bedroom to listen for changes that might signal your child is having a seizure5

Changing your home is a big step in adapting to life with LGS. But it is just one example of the ways LGS requires your family to be flexible. As families adjust to living with LGS, they must remember to find ways to help each other deal with the stress.

Modest changes to your home can make life easier and safer.
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References:

  • 1. Camfield PR, Camfield CS. Epileptic syndromes in childhood: clinical features, outcomes, and treatment. Epilepsia. 2002;43(suppl 3):27-32.
  • 2. How to choose a protective helmet. Epilepsy Foundation Web site. http://www.epilepsy.com/article/2014/3/how-choose-protective-helmet. Accessed December 1, 2019.
  • 3. LGS Foundation. Adults and LGS. LGS Foundation Web site. http://www.lgsfoundation.org/adultsandlgs. Accessed October 21, 2019.
  • 4. Schachter SC, Shafer PO, Sirven JI. Safety at home. Epilepsy Foundation Web site. http://www.epilepsy.com/get-help/staying-safe/safety-home. Published September 2013. Accessed December 1, 2019.
  • 5. Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria. Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). Epilepsy Centre Web site. https://epilepsycentre.org.au/lennox-gastaut-syndrome-lgs/. Published May 1999. Accessed October 30, 2019.