Case Report

Paraplegia (1991) 29, 557–560; doi:10.1038/sc.1991.81

Spinal cord seizures: a possible cause of isolated myoclonic activity in traumatic spinal cord injury

J M Meythaler1, S M Tuel1 and L L Cross1

1Virginia Spinal Cord Injury System, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA



Spinal cord seizures are infrequently reported. They have been associated with intravenous dye placement, transverse myelitis and multiple sclerosis, but never with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). We report the case of a 48-year-old SCI male with complete C6 quadriplegia, and apparent spinal cord seizures. These seizures were characterised by myoclonus simplex activity involving the upper extremities only. The lower extremities were spared. The patient was conscious throughout the myoclonic activity and an electroencephalogram of the brain obtained during an event revealed no cortical epiliptiform activity. The seizures lasted approximately 30 seconds to a few minutes, and an acute increase in blood pressure and a decrease in pulse generally occurred 30 to 60 seconds prior to the event. Previously reported spinal cord seizures in multiple sclerosis were frequently treated with carbamazepine. In this case successful treatment was with diazepam. Spinal cord seizures may present in those with traumatic SCI. Benzodiaze-pines may be useful in the treatment of spinal cord seizures.


Spinal cord injury; Seizures; Myoclonus; Benzodiazepines; Autonomic dysreflexia; Spasticity



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