These seizures usually start in a small area of the temporal lobe or frontal lobe of the brain. They quickly involve other areas of the brain that affect alertness and awareness. So even though the child's eyes are open and they may make movements that seem to have a purpose, in reality "nobody's home."
If the symptoms are subtle, other people may think the person is just daydreaming.
Some people can have seizures of this kind without realizing anything has happened. The seizure can wipe out memories of events just before or after.
Some of these seizures (usually ones beginning in the temporal lobe) start with a simple partial seizure.
Then the person loses awareness and stares blankly.
Most people move their mouth, pick at the air or their clothing, or perform other purposeless actions. These movements are called "automatisms".
Less often, people may repeat words or phrases, laugh, scream, or cry. Some people do things during these seizures that can be dangerous or embarrassing, such as walking into traffic or taking their clothes off. These people need to take precautions in advance.
Complex partial seizures starting in the frontal lobe tend to be shorter than the ones from the temporal lobe. The seizures that start in the frontal lobe are also more likely to include automatisms like bicycling movements of the legs or pelvic thrusting.
Some complex partial seizures turn into secondarily generalized seizures. They usually last between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.
Afterward, the person may be tired or confused for about 15 minutes and may not be return to normal function for hours.
As for many other kinds of seizures, the outlook depends on whether the cause is known. They may be outgrown or controlled with medication.
Occupational therapists commonly evaluate and treat people with epilepsy and other neurological problems. They can help find out why people have problems with tasks of daily living and teach them ways of adapting or compensating for the problems. They can also offer strategies to persons with epilepsy who also have additional disorders that affect their ability to perform fine-motor tasks, such as writing, buttoning clothes, or picking up small objects.
Physical therapists can help people who have problems with moving and walking around. This may include helping people regain function or strength after a broken bone or a long period of not moving around. PTs can help people improve their balance, coordination and learn safer ways of walking. Ways to compensate for other neurological problems may include how to use adaptive equipment or make your home, school or work environment safer.
Speech therapists specialize in evaluating and treating people with speech and language problems. People with epilepsy may have language problems that arise from an underlying neurological problems, or seizures affecting language areas of the brain. Other cognitive problems can affect language abilities too. Rehabilitation strategies will depend upon the type and cause of the problems as well as the age of the patient. Speech therapists often work with children in school settings to address how language and other cognitive problems affect academic function and daily living.