Todd Paralysis

Todd paralysis is a neurological condition characterized by a brief period of transient (temporary) paralysis following a seizure. The paralysis - which may be partial or complete - generally occurs on one side of the body and usually subsides completely within 48 hours. Todd's paralysis may also affect speech or vision.


Other Names

  • Post-epileptic paralysis (PEP)
  • Epileptic hemiplegia

Signs and Symptoms

The clinical features of Todd paralysis vary widely among patients. Weakness is a universal symptom but the location and severity of the symptoms vary. [1] The paralysis generally occurs in the limb affected by seizure activity.

Other symptoms, depending on parts of the brain affected by seizure activity, may include problems with vision, speech, and sensation.


The exact cause of Todd paralysis is not known. Theories include exhaustion of the motor cortex after the seizure activity and inactivation of motor fibers.


Examination of an individual who is experiencing or who has just experienced Todd's paralysis may help physicians identify the origin of the seizure. It is important to distinguish the condition from a stroke, which requires different treatment.


Treatment of Todd's paralysis is symptomatic and supportive because the paralysis disappears quickly.


The National Institute of of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) supports research on intractable epilepsy and various forms of paralysis such as Todd's paralysis. The research focuses on increasing knowledge of these conditions, and finding ways to prevent and treat them.

Expected Outcome

Full recovery within hours to days is expected.


Todd paralysis was named for Robert Bentley Todd (1809-60), an Irish physician who described the condition in 1849. [2]


  1. Rolak LA, Rutecki P, Ashizawa T, Harati Y. Clinical features of Todd's post-epileptic paralysis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1992 Jan;55(1):63-4. Abstract
  2. Binder DK. A history of Todd and his paralysis. Neurosurgery.2004 Feb;54(2):480-6; discussion 486-7. Abstract

External Links

Epilepsy Foundation

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