Todd’s paralysis can happen after a seizure. It can mimic a stroke with paralysis of the body on the side opposite of the seizure. It can also induce aphasia or lack of speaking and confusion. The difference between Todd’s paralysis and a stroke is that Todd’s paralysis will resolve within 36 hours of the seizure. The person experiencing the paralysis secondary to a seizure will return to baseline, unfortunately this will not be the case with a stroke.
Todd’s paralysis occurs about 6-13% of the time in people with seizures. Once it has happened may not happen again. The cause is uncertain. It is theorized that the brain when it has the seizure uses up the chemicals that maintain normal function and it causes the paralysis. Signs of seizures may be present when the person presents with the paralysis- signs such as loss of bowel and bladder function and biting of the tongue.
CT scans and MRIs are needed to make the diagnosis. The classic signs of a stroke with the signals of either a blood clot in the brain or lack of blood to the brain are absent. Time will then show the symptoms disappearing and most people get back to their health status prior to the seizure. Many things can trigger a seizure such as tumors, medications, electrolyte imbalances, history of seizures but in most cases no cause will be identified.