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Cataplexy is a medical condition which often affects people who have narcolepsy, a disorder whose principal signs are EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness), sleep attacks, and disturbed night-time sleep. Cataplexy is sometimes confused with epilepsy, where a series of flashes or other stimuli cause superficially similar seizures.
The term cataplexy originates from the Greek kata, meaning down, and plexis, meaning a stroke or seizure.
Cataplexy manifests itself as muscular weakness which may range from a barely perceptible slackening of the facial muscles to the dropping of the jaw or head, weakness at the knees, or a total collapse. Usually the speech is slurred, vision is impaired (double vision, inability to focus), but hearing and awareness remain normal. These attacks are triggered by strong emotions such as exhilaration, anger, fear, surprise, orgasm, awe, embarrassment and laughter.
An aura is the perceptual disturbance experienced by some migraine sufferers before a migraine headache, and the telltale sensation experienced by some people with epilepsy before a seizure. It often manifests as the perception of a strange light or an unpleasant smell.
1.Simple Partial Seizures (SPS) involve small areas of the temporal lobe and do not affect consciousness. These are seizures which primarily cause sensations. These sensations may be mnestic such as déjà vu (a feeling of familiarity), jamais vu (a feeling of unfamiliarity), a specific single or set of memories, or amnesia. The sensations may be auditory such as a sound or tune, or gustatory such as a taste, or olfactory such as a smell that is not truly present. Sensations can also be visual or involve feelings on the skin or in the internal organs. The latter feelings may seem to move over the body. Dysphoric or euphoric feelings, fear, anger, and other sensations can also occur during SPS. Often, it is hard for persons with SPS of TLE to describe the feeling. SPS are sometimes called "auras" by lay persons, and are sometimes thought to just be a prelude to an actual seizure. The latter is incorrect. SPS are seizures.
2.Complex Partial Seizures (CPS) by definition are seizures which impair consciousness to some extent. This is to say that they alter the person's ability to interact with others. They usually begin with an SPS, but then the seizure spread to a large portion of the temporal lobe and impairs consciousness. Signs may include motionless staring, automatic movements of the hands or mouth, inability to respond to others, unusual speech, or unusual behaviors. Because judgement is impaired, persons experiencing CPS may not legally drive vehicles for periods of time which are set by local governments worldwide.
3.Seizures which begin in the temporal lobe but then spread to the whole brain are known as Secondarily Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures (SGTCS). These begin with an SPS or CPS phase initially, but then the arms, trunk and legs stiffen in either a flexed or extended position. After this, coarse jerking of the limbs and trunk occur.