What Is Postictal Paralysis?

A Possible Cause of Temporary Paralysis

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Definition: Postictal paralysis, also known as Todd’s paresis, Todd’s paralysis, or Todd’s palsy, is a neurological condition that causes a brief period of temporary paralysis after an epileptic seizure. Paralysis can be either partial or complete and usually affects a specific part of the body after the seizure. The paralysis typically lasts from an hour to thirty-six hours. While it can occur with any form of seizure, Todd’s paralysis usually affects patients with epilepsy.

Causes of Postictal Paralysis

There are numerous theories about the cause of postictal paralysis but no known cause. One theory is that certain processes in the brain cause a reduction in energy output of the neurons in the brain.

Symptoms of Postictal Paralysis

Immediately following a seizure, the brain is recovering from the experience. While recovery occurs, some symptoms a patient experiences closely resemble those of a stroke.

Symptoms of postictal paralysis include:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Severe weakness
  • Paralysis of a limb or one side of the body
  • Changes in vision
  • Numbness
  • Blindness
  • Lack of responsiveness

Symptoms usually disappear within minutes to hours of onset.

Diagnosis of Postictal Paralysis

The need to differentiate between a stroke and postictal paralysis is crucial because the treatment for either condition is different. Tests to confirm the diagnosis of postictal paralysis may include the following:

Treatment of Postictal Paralysis

There is no real treatment for postictal paralysis. Treatment of postictal paralysis depends upon the effects of the seizure and treatment of epilepsy. With rest, the symptoms will eventually disappear within minutes to hours.

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