Seizures After Traumatic Brain Injury

Seizures After Traumatic Brain Injury

What are seizures?

A seizure is a sudden and abnormal electrical impulse that occurs in the brain. This electrical disruption can lead to variety of outward symptoms including irregular and sporadic movement, loss of consciousness, and difficulty communicating. The symptoms that manifest during a seizure are uncontrollable and often come about randomly and suddenly. After a seizure it is common for people to experience drowsiness, disabling weakness, and confusion in what is known as the “postictal” state. Seizures frequently only last for a few seconds or minutes but can sometimes persist for five minutes or longer.

Seizures as a result of TBI

The onset of seizures is a potentially serious side-effect of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Seizures are most likely to present in the first week following TBI but may also occur months or years after the injury. In those who experience seizures following TBI, the electrical disturbance generally happens in the area of the brain where there is scarring due to brain damage. Research has shown that risk of having a seizure is increased in those who sustained their TBI as a result of a bullet wound. It has also been noted that bleeding between the brain and the skull could contribute to an increased likelihood of experiencing seizures after TBI.

Life-altering effects of seizures

Having seizures can have a deleterious effect on the health and lifestyle of those that get them. The severity of the seizure depends on the length and type of seizure. A long-convulsive seizure is considered a medical emergency. If seizures cannot be halted, long-term damage or death can come about. People can also die from problems that may occur during or after seizures such as inhaling vomit. While having a seizure, individuals are at risk for sustaining bruises or physical injuries as a result of falling or from uncontrollable movements.

After a severe seizure, individuals may have a hard time taking care of themselves for days after the incident. In most states, after having a seizure, individuals are required to report the incident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and are normally prohibited from operating motor vehicles for some period of time or until the seizures have totally stopped happening. In addition, after having a seizure people need to be careful about engaging in activities such as swimming or climbing during which having a seizure could be dangerous.

Although it is uncommon to die from a seizure it can be a highly disturbing and confusing experience. Having repeated seizures may cause individuals to develop anxiety around the fear of having them. Additionally, people may choose to refrain from going out in public to avoid having a seizure in front of groups of people.

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