22-10-2015 | Sudoku Puzzle Triggered Seizures in a Student

'22-10-2015 | Sudoku Puzzle Triggered Seizures in a Student' image

Many triggers for seizures are common to people with epilepsy such as missed medication, stress, and lack of sleep or food and by alcohol. Some seizure triggers however can be more unusual and quite specific to an individual. Reflex epilepsies are rare but involve seizures being triggered by specific stimuli such as flashing lights in the case of photosensitive epilepsy, which is the most common type of reflex epilepsy. Other rarer cases of reflex seizures have been reported as being triggered by music and certain sounds, textures and touch or even by reading.

A unique case report of a German student has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Neurology) describing how he was admitted to hospital following a skiing accident when an avalanche left him oxygen deprived under snow. He was trapped under snow for 15 minutes and later developed muscles jerks when speaking or walking.

During his recovery in hospital some weeks later he developed clonic seizures which notably only occurred when he was solving Sudoku puzzles. These seizures involved jerking of his arm and stopped as soon as he stopped the puzzle. Doctors found the seizure occurred when the man tried to visualise the solutions for the Sudoku puzzle in 3D. They concluded that the oxygen deprivation he experienced in the avalanche had caused this reflex epilepsy to develop.

Fortunately the 3D visualisation strategy he used to solve the Sudoku puzzle appears to have been the only trigger for his seizures and he experienced no seizures when he was not doing these puzzles. Since giving up solving Sudoku puzzles the man has managed to remain seizure free for over 5 years.

Source: JAMA Neurology Published online October 19, 2015