Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME)

Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) develops during childhood or adolescence, often from 5 to 16 years old. This type of epilepsy is characterized by waking up from sleep due to the rapid jerking of the arms and legs. The condition tends to get better after age 30. The exact cause is still unknown. Family history may be a risk factor and the myoclonus (muscle jerks) may be triggered by lack of sleep, and extreme levels of stress.

There are three types of JME: absence, myoclonic, and tonic-clonic.

Absence seizures are often experienced during childhood. When this happens, the affected child may seem as if he is simply daydreaming or spacing out for around 10 seconds. Hence, this phase is difficult to identify. Myoclonic seizures often manifest from age 1 to 10 or 14 to 15. This is characterized by jerking movements of one or both arms and legs while some patients only experience irregular finger movements. After several months, the epilepsy often progresses to tonic-clonic seizures; body muscles get stiff and jerk repeatedly. The individual loses consciousness for 1 to 3 minutes.

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