WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John Roberts suffered a seizure at his summer home in Maine on Monday, causing a fall that resulted in minor scrapes, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said. He will remain in a hospital in Maine overnight.
Doctors called Monday’s incident “a benign idiopathic seizure,” Arberg said. The White House described the January 1993 episode as an “isolated, idiosyncratic seizure.” Both descriptions indicate that doctors could not determine the seizure’s cause or link it to another medical condition. For example, doctors would have quickly ruled out simple explanations such as dehydration or low blood sugar.
Roberts, who was named to the court in 2005, has led the Supreme Court to a more conservative stance, along with Justice Samuel Alito, who won confirmation in early 2006. Conservative causes have won twice as often as they lost on the Roberts-led court. The 2006-07 term brought limits on abortion rights, restrictions on school integration programs and greater freedom for political advertising.
Medical opinions differed on just what Roberts’ seizures mean. Someone who has had more than one seizure without any other cause is determined to have epilepsy, said Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a neurologist at Washington Hospital Center, who is not involved in the Roberts’ case.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Shazam!
PROTIP: In most cases, the proper emergency response to a generalized tonic-clonic epileptic seizure is simply to prevent the patient from self-injury by moving him or her away from sharp edges, placing something soft beneath the head, and carefully rolling the person into the recovery position to avoid asphyxiation. In some cases the person may seem to start snoring loudly following a seizure, before coming to. This merely indicates that the person is beginning to breathe properly and does not mean he or she is suffocating. Should the person regurgitate, the material should be allowed to drip out the side of the person’s mouth by itself. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if the seizures begin coming in ‘waves’ one after the other — then Emergency Medical Services should be contacted immediately. Prolonged seizures may develop into status epilepticus, a dangerous condition requiring hospitalization and emergency treatment. Objects should never be placed in a person’s mouth by anybody — including paramedics — during a seizure as this could result in serious injury to either party. Despite common folklore, it is not possible for a person to swallow their own tongue during a seizure.
HISTORY & STIGMA: The word epilepsy is derived from the Greek epilepsia, which in turn can be broken in to epi- (upon) and lepsis (to take hold of, or seizure) In the past, epilepsy was associated with religious experiences and even demonic possession. In ancient times, epilepsy was known as the “Sacred Disease” because people thought that epileptic seizures were a form of attack by demons, or that the visions experienced by persons with epilepsy were sent by the gods. However, in many cultures, persons with epilepsy have been stigmatized, shunned, or even imprisoned; in the Salpetriere, the birthplace of modern neurology, Jean-Martin Charcot found people with epilepsy side-by-side with the mentally retarded, those with chronic syphilis, and the criminally insane. In Tanzania to this day, as with other parts of Africa, epilepsy is associated with possession by evil spirits, witchcraft, or poisoning and is believed by many to be contagious. In ancient Rome, epilepsy was known as the Morbus Comitialis (‘disease of the assembly hall’) and was seen as a curse from the gods. Stigma continues to this day, in both the public and private spheres, but polls suggest it is generally decreasing with time, at least in the developed world; Hippocrates remarked that epilepsy would cease to be considered divine the day it was understood. [via WIKIPEDIA]