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Why Brain Injuries Can Cause Epilepsy

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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After any type of traumatic injury to the brain, there is damage. This damage can be minimal and heal over time, or this damage can go on indefinitely, leaving the sufferer with problems they have to face for the rest of his or her life. Out of all of the effects that can happen after an injury to the brain, having seizures is often one that people fear due to their random nature and debilitating effects. If you or someone you care about has suffered a traumatic injury to the brain, here are a few things you should know about the potential of them having seizures.

When Do Seizures Hit?

Most of the time, within the first 1-2 weeks of the injury is when seizures begin; however, they can happen months or even years after an injury. Once a single seizure happens, more than half of patients will end up having additional seizures at some point. It can be years between seizures for some people, and hours between seizures for others suffering from this type of condition.

What Causes the Seizures and When Does That Lead to Epilepsy?

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When an injury to the brain causes even mild damage, it can result in one of the brain’s many pathways not working quite as well as it once did. This interruption can sometimes lead to single, or epileptic, seizures. The brain continues to try and send electrical pulses along the same pathways it always did, but because this particular pathway is now interrupted, the signal has nowhere to go but out, causing the seizure.

There are many different types of seizures, so sometimes people are totally unaware they are even having one at first. If you see someone doing one of these activities following a brain injury, it may be time to speak with his or her doctor:

  • The most common seizure is an uncontrolled shaking or stiffening of the body, in part or in whole
  • Seizures can also make it to where someone is temporarily unable to say anything or understand things being told to them
  • Staring at nothing and becoming unresponsive for a period of time
  • Sudden onset of exhaustion or dizzy spells
  • Suffering from an onset of unusual visual disturbances, strange smells, unexplained tastes, odd noises, or uncontrollable feelings
  • Fumbling around
  • Chewing movements or smacking the mouth uncontrollably

If these occurrences only happen a single time, then the injury may have begun to repair itself in your brain. However, if these seizures continue to happen, it could lead to full-blown epilepsy, which likely means a lifelong battle with seizures. If you suffered a brain injury that was quickly followed up with a seizure, within the first week, there is a higher likeliness that you will face additional seizures later in life.

Is There Any Treatment for Seizures?

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Luckily, the vast majority of people who suffer from seizures following some type of traumatic injury to the brain are able to have control over their seizures with medication. This allows them to be managed much of the time, leaving only a small percentage of seizures coming through as breakthrough seizures. The main problem with the medications that are used to treat epileptic seizures is that they all have side effects. The most common side effects include being sleepy, feeling dizzy or struggling with balance, being confused, or having double vision.

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Just because someone has a traumatic brain injury does not mean that they will have seizures, but it is a complication that can arise after an injury. About 10% of those hospitalized for their injuries will end up facing at least one seizure in their lifetime, so it is something people need to be aware of. If you, or your loved one, suspects that they may be experiencing seizures, it is important to contact the doctor right away to get tested. Uncontrolled seizures can be dangerous, so anyone experiencing seizures should always remain under a doctor’s care.

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