In the Know: Seizures

By Karen Morrissette of the Montanian


Seizures can be complicated and difficult to understand. For those afflicted with this illness, it can often be life changing. A seizure is an uncontrolled burst of electrical activity in the brain. While this usually lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes, seizures at times can be prolonged and life threatening, a condition known as status epilepticus. Any seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes is a medical emergency.

There are different kinds of seizures, perhaps the most obvious of which is the grand mal, or tonic-clonic variety. During such a seizure, there may be muscle spasms or jerking on one or both sides of the body. The individual often loses consciousness and may fall. At times, breathing may be difficult. Afterwards it may take several minutes for them to recover and they may be exhausted or confused.

Partial, or focal, seizures affect only a limited part of the brain and can be simple or complex. During a simple partial seizure, the individual may just have strange sensations or emotions, or twitching of an isolated area such as a hand or arm. They are usually awake and aware when this happens. During a complex partial seizure, one is usually unaware and exhibits repetitive, random body movements. This might include smacking the lips, picking at clothes, or rubbing their hands. An absence, or petit mal, seizure occurs when someone loses awareness of their surroundings for a short time. Often, this involves staring into space for 15 or more seconds, followed by normal awareness. Partial and absence seizures can be hard to identify and diagnosis may be delayed.

Seizures can happen as the result of a trauma, such as a head injury, stroke, infection or fever, low blood sugar, withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs, or another event causing a sudden loss of oxygen to the brain. Tumors or masses in the brain can also cause seizures. Up to 10-11% of people in the U.S. may have an isolated seizure, which are more often of the tonic-clonic variety.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes abnormal brain activity and recurrent seizures. There are many different forms of epilepsy and various causes. Imbalance in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, certain genetic conditions, some autoimmune or metabolic conditions, and any of the traumas noted above that are severe enough to leave permanent brain damage can lead to development of epilepsy. However, only 25% of epilepsy cases have a known cause. The rest are considered idiopathic, or without a known cause.

If you see someone having a seizure, the best response is to provide support. If they lose consciousness, try to help them to the floor safely and clear away furniture or other items that may injure them. Do not attempt to hold them still. Do not put anything in their mouth as it could lead to further injury and block the airway. Time the seizure and call 911 if it lasts more than 4-5 minutes. Remain calm, providing reassurance and safety as they recover. Anyone having a seizure for the first time should be evaluated by a provider. Having a third person take a video of the event can sometimes help with diagnosis.

Over Snow Travel Planning Extended

Submitted by Larona Rebo, USFS


The Kootenai National Forest is extending the scoping period on the proposed action for an Over-snow Motorized Use Travel Plan. Due to public requests for additional time, the scoping period has been extended until September 29, 2023 to provide more time for comments on the proposed action.

This travel plan includes National Forest System lands on the Libby, Cabinet, Three Rivers, Fortine and Rexford Ranger Districts across the forest. This project does not include the Ten Lakes Travel Management project area (approximately 64,000 acres including the wilderness study area) as this will be covered under a separate planning effort. The Forest is proposing to open 1,257,633 acres to cross country over-snow vehicle use. Approximately 278,000 acres will be available for cross country travel.

Additional information about the preliminary proposed action and supporting information are available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/kootenai/?project=64358. If you comment on this proposal, you will also have the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Assessment before we issue a decision. Specific written comments (ยง218.2) on the proposed project are most helpful if provided by September 29th, 2023.