Atonic seizures

Common Name(s)

Atonic seizures, Akinetic seizures, Drop attacks

Atonic seizures are a type of generalized seizures in which the muscles suddenly become very loose and droop. Atonic means “without tone”, therefore in an atomic seizure the muscle loses its strength. Other names for atonic seizures include drop seizures and akinetic seizures. Although atonic seizures occur in all age groups, these seizures are most common in children. Atonic seizure are rare, affecting only about 1-3% of children with epilepsy.

During an atonic seizure, the person’s body will go limp. The body and head may slump over and the eyelids may drop, often causing the person to fall. The child normally remains conscious or loses consciousness only briefly. It is uncommon for the seizure to last longer than 15 seconds. After the seizure the child will be alert. These seizures can occur once or multiple times in a row. While the condition itself may not cause any harm, a person may become injured from falling down.

Seizures are a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The exact cause of atonic seizures is unknown. It is fairly easy to diagnose an atomic seizure since it involves a person suddenly dropping and falling down. A test called electroencephalogram (EEG) may be used to confirm the diagnosis. AN EEG is able to record unusual electrical activity in the brain. There are several medications available to treat atonic seizures. A special diet or vagus nerve stimulation (sending mild pulses of electricity to the brain, similar to a heart pacemaker) may also be helpful. Surgery may be an option. In some cases, children may outgrow epilepsy, for others it is a lifelong condition. If your or your child has been diagnosed with atonic seizures, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also good resources for support and information.

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Condition Specific Organizations

Following organizations serve the condition "Atonic seizures" for support, advocacy or research.

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Scientific Literature

Articles from the PubMed Database

Research articles describe the outcome of a single study. They are the published results of original research.
The terms "Atonic seizures" returned 6 free, full-text research articles on human participants. First 3 results:

Epileptic spasms in epilepsy with myoclonic-atonic seizures (Doose syndrome).
 

Author(s): Francesca Pittau, Christian M Korff, Douglas R Nordli

Journal: Epileptic Disord. 2016 Sep;18(3):289-96.

 

To describe the occurrence of epileptic spasms in epilepsy with myoclonic-atonic seizures (EMAS) or Doose syndrome.

Last Updated: 26 Aug 2016

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Drop attacks, falls and atonic seizures in the Video-EEG monitoring unit.
 

Author(s): Sara Baraldi, Fiona Farrell, Jennifer Benson, Beate Diehl, Tim Wehner, Stjepana Kovac

Journal: Seizure. 2015 Nov;32():4-8.

 

We set out to determine clinical and EEG features of seizures presenting with falls, epileptic drop attacks and atonia in the video EEG monitoring unit.

Last Updated: 10 Nov 2015

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Mutations in the GABA Transporter SLC6A1 Cause Epilepsy with Myoclonic-Atonic Seizures.
 

Author(s): Gemma L Carvill, Jacinta M McMahon, Amy Schneider, Matthew Zemel, Candace T Myers, Julia Saykally, John Nguyen, Angela Robbiano, Federico Zara, Nicola Specchio, Oriano Mecarelli, Robert L Smith, Richard J Leventer, Rikke S Møller, Marina Nikanorova, Petia Dimova, Albena Jordanova, Steven Petrou, , Ingo Helbig, Pasquale Striano, Sarah Weckhuysen, Samuel F Berkovic, Ingrid E Scheffer, Heather C Mefford

Journal: Am. J. Hum. Genet.. 2015 May;96(5):808-15.

 

GAT-1, encoded by SLC6A1, is one of the major gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transporters in the brain and is responsible for re-uptake of GABA from the synapse. In this study, targeted resequencing of 644 individuals with epileptic encephalopathies led to the identification of six ...

Last Updated: 11 May 2015

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Reviews from the PubMed Database

Review articles summarize what is currently known about a disease. They discuss research previously published by others.
The terms "Atonic seizures" returned 4 free, full-text review articles on human participants. First 3 results:

Corpus callosotomy versus vagus nerve stimulation for atonic seizures and drop attacks: A systematic review.
 

Author(s): John D Rolston, Dario J Englot, Doris D Wang, Paul A Garcia, Edward F Chang

Journal: Epilepsy Behav. 2015 Oct;51():13-7.

 

Atonic seizures are debilitating and poorly controlled with antiepileptic medications. Two surgical options are primarily used to treat medically refractory atonic seizures: corpus callosotomy (CC) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). However, given the uncertainty regarding relative ...

Last Updated: 5 Oct 2015

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Atonic phenomena in focal seizures: nomenclature, clinical findings and pathophysiological concepts.
 

Author(s): Stjepana Kovac, Beate Diehl

Journal: Seizure. 2012 Oct;21(8):561-7.

 

Atonic seizures have traditionally been described in patients with generalized epilepsies; however, ictal atonia is increasingly recognized as a phenomenon of focal seizures. Recognition of atonia as a manifestation of focal seizures is crucial in order to not mislabel these events ...

Last Updated: 21 Aug 2012

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Tonic and atonic seizures: what's next--VNS or callosotomy?
 

Author(s): William E Rosenfeld, David W Roberts

Journal: Epilepsia. 2009 Sep;50 Suppl 8():25-30.

 

Medically intractable tonic and atonic seizures may be responsive to either vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) or corpus callosum section. VNS has been shown to be effective and is associated with very low morbidity. Callosotomy is a more ambitious procedure, with a higher risk of complications ...

Last Updated: 25 Aug 2009

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Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Clinical Trial Information This information is provided by ClinicalTrials.gov

A Trial of Two Fixed Doses of ZX008 (Fenfluramine HCl) in Children and Young Adults With Dravet Syndrome
 

Status: Recruiting

Condition Summary: Dravet Syndrome; Seizure Disorder

 

Last Updated: 9 Sep 2017

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