Tonic and atonic seizures: Medical therapy and ketogenic diet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Tonic and atonic seizures are typically seen in what are often referred to as the catastrophic epilepsies. In simply considering what each of the terms signifies (either the complete loss of tone or a marked increase in tone), they would appear to be at the most diverse ends of the spectrum. They would appear to be as opposite as hot and cold or hard and soft. And yet they are often found to occur in the same patient. This article examines the nature of these seizures and discusses some of the syndromes in which they are seen. Although these seizures are often very difficult to control, some of our medications/therapies have been shown to be effective. Recommendations concerning the efficacy of these therapies and a review of the newer therapies are provided. In addition, the ketogenic diet has been particularly successful in treating these seizures; this is discussed in some detail. Finally, although outcomes for these children are generally less than ideal, many can be helped with a persistent approach that balances seizure control against the side effects of medication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-24
Number of pages4
Issue numberSUPPL. 8
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Atonic seizures
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Tonic seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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