Atonic seizure first aid

Atonic seizures are sometimes called drop attacks.

Watch this short video about how to recognise an atonic seizure.

During an atonic seizure, the person usually loses all muscle tone and drops heavily to the floor. The seizure is very short and the person is usually able to get up again straight away. But falls can result in injury, often to the face, nose or head.

Sometimes the person might not completely fall, but their head might drop forward or they might sag at the knees.

How to help

  • Atonic seizures happen very quickly, so there is not much you can do while the seizure is happening
  • Afterwards people can usually carry on with what they are doing
  • They might need medical help, or to visit A&E if they have badly injured themselves

If someone has had their first atonic seizure, they might not need medical help at the time. But they should make an appointment to see a doctor who can decide if any tests or a referral to a specialist are needed. We have more information on our diagnosis page.

Adult with a learning disability and epilepsy sitting in a restaurant.

Epilepsy information for carers

This information is for carers of someone with epilepsy and a learning difficulty.

Read more
This information has been produced under the terms of the PIF TICK. The PIF TICK is the UK-wide Quality Mark for Health Information. Please contact if you would like a reference list for this information.
Published: January 2024
Last modified: April 2024
To be reviewed: January 2027
Tracking: A048.02
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