Ortiz: Teaching CSU students seizure first aid is important

Kenia Ortiz

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

I was walking to class a couple weeks ago when I felt my head twitching and my body went frigid. I have gone six years without a seizure. Yet, a seizure could come at any time in my life.

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Colorado State University should implement a brief training on what to do when assisting someone who is having a seizure during Ram Orientation.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, more people live with epilepsy than those who are on the autism spectrum, have Parkinson’s disease multiple scleroses and cerebral palsy combined.

Epilepsy is a disorder in the brain caused by a stroke, a severe brain injury, a brain tumor or a central nervous system infection and characterized by seizures. Although these are some possibilities, there are many times where the cause is unknown.

I have had a history of seizures for almost 10 years. I had my first seizure when I was 11.

As someone who has to take everyday precautions because of my seizures, I have found that there is a lack of education on how to assist someone when they are seizing.

When I go out with a new group of people, when I start a new job or am meeting someone for the first time, I have to inform them on what they should do to assist me. I have learned that there are many common misconceptions of what to do when someone is seizing.

The most important thing to do is to avoid putting anything in the person’s mouth.

Some people believe that by putting a pencil, a wallet or bar of soap in a person’s mouth while they are seizing, they will keep them from swallowing or biting their tongue off. This is false.

It is physically impossible to swallow one’s tongue. Putting something in their mouth puts the person in danger of swallowing that object instead.

It is also important to not restrain someone who is having a full body seizure. Not all seizures include full body convulsions, but if they do, it is important to leave the person alone. Do not attempt to give mouth-to-mouth to the person and to not try to make the person drink or eat when they wake up.

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 Stay with the person until they are done seizing. Speak to them calmly and help them sit up.If you experience a stranger, friend or family member seizing, it is important to check if they have a medical bracelet or another form of medical information.

Make sure to protect the person’s head and make sure they do not hurt themselves with anything while they are seizing. Remove eyeglasses so that there wont be the risk of them breaking and injuring them. Removing anything around their neck that may make it hard for them to breathe.

Breakout: 9 STEPS TO ASSIST SOMEONE WHO IS EXPERIENCING A FULL BODY SEIZURE

  1. Help them get to or gently lay them on the ground if they are not already there.

  2. Turn the person on their side.

  3. Remove eyeglasses or any constraints around their neck if possible. 

  4. Check if the person has any type of medical identification on them.

  5. DO NOT put anything in their mouth.

  6. Protect their head (and the rest of their body) by making sure they wont hit themselves with anything near them.

  7. Time the seizure. The person seizing will be unable to know how long they have been seizing. If the seizure is reaching or goes beyond five minutes, call an ambulance. (If you feel the need to call an ambulance to be safe it is better to do that)

  8. When the person wakes up, talk to them calmly and do not rush them to get up. Give them time to collect themselves.

  9. Ask if they would like to go the emergency room, who you can call or if they need any other type of assistance. 

Most seizures can last from seconds to a couple of minutes and they will end on their own. Majority of seizures do not require a trip to the emergency room. But, this varies from person to person so make sure to ask.

Although it is not common for people to die because of a seizure, The overall risk of dying is 1.6 to 3 times higher in people with epilepsy than in the general population.

People who die during a seizure die because of something that occurs during a seizure. The person can choke on vomit, which is why it is important to turn them on their side. They can drown if they are in a pool when they are seizing, or if seizures occur one right after another, so can permanent injury or death.

CSU offers resources to those with epilepsy through the Student Disability Center. People with epilepsy are still able to go to class, have fun and have a job so I understand that it is up to the person themself to reach out of they require services.

However, not everyone knows if they are epileptic or not when they come to college. There are people who find out at a young age and some people who go their whole lives without realizing they are epileptic and learn how to take care of themselves if they were to seize.

Seizures are extremely common and on a campus of roughly 30,00 people, students and staff should have the skills necessary to help someone who is seizing. After all, Rams take care of Rams.

Kenia Ortiz can be reached at letters@collegain.com or online at @Kenia_Ortiz_