Both atonic and tonic seizures can result in falls and other injuries. In an atonic seizure,
there’s a loss of muscle tone and the person may fall limply, like a ‘rag doll’. In a tonic
seizure, the person may become suddenly stiff and fall like a ‘tree trunk’. Since there is
usually no warning and it occurs quickly, there is often no time to protect the person from
hurting themselves at the time of the event.
• Sometimes, a person may have other seizures before a tonic or atonic seizure that
may warn them to sit or lie down. For example, absence or myoclonic seizures
may be seen in people with tonic or atonic seizures and often occur in clusters.
• People who have frequent atonic or tonic seizures without warning may need
protective headgear and sometimes a face mask to prevent injury.
• Other ways of preventing injury should be talked about. For example, walking
using a gaitbelt when walking with someone (the other person can hold onto the person with seizures by holding the back of the belt), if or when to use a wheelchair, or using other protective padding (elbow or knee pads).