Epilepsy Talk

Head Injury and Seizures | May 12, 2019

How many of you have had a car accident…an abrupt fall…a physical assault?  If you are one of those people and you have suffered a head injury, the probability of seizure activity increases dramatically…

Seizures may develop immediately after an injury to the brain or may develop in delayed fashion, showing up months or years after the initial trauma.

Generally speaking, the risk of post traumatic seizures is related to the severity of the injury — the greater the injury, the higher the risk of developing seizures. Even mild to moderate injuries can result in seizures.

It is thought that a head injury disrupts the pathways of the brain and that an epileptic seizure can be viewed as a sort of short-circuit of the brain’s electrical functioning. During the seizure the electrical fields in the brain are overloaded, resulting in seizures.

The most commonly seen seizures related to traumatic brain injury are “generalized” seizures, which are also called “Tonic-Clonic” or “Grand Mal” seizures.

Persons who have had head trauma are twelve times as likely as the general population to suffer seizures.

Approximately 57% of head injured individuals developed epilepsy within one-year of injury. 80% of the time, they occur within the first 24-months. Longer onset epilepsy beginning more than four years after the trauma occurs in 20% of patients who developed epilepsy.

However, there is a school of thought that the “window in time” between a head trauma and when epilepsy could eventually develop allows investigators to study if medications can prevent the development of epilepsy before it starts.

The exciting hope for the future is that therapy to prevent epilepsy in head injuries can be developed.

Consider this possible futuristic approach: We know that patients with severe head trauma are at high risk to develop epilepsy.

Perhaps this group of patients could be treated with a medication that prevents the process that leads to seizure activity. This would be a wonderful advance over just waiting for the first seizure!

Experts in the field are studying how to accomplish this important goal.

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  1. About 15 years ago I had my head bounced off a wall during an attack by an assailant in my own house. Epilepsy began to present itself 3 years later. But according to my neurologist it’s difficult to link the two events.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Douglas Lee-Murray — May 12, 2019 @ 12:27 PM

  2. It’s quite understandable- yeah- simply because the vast majority of today’s medical doctors and neurologists do NOT understand the circumstances when they do not experience epilepsy themselves; In other words, it’s ‘just a problem’. Right. The doctors do not realize how much of a problem THEY have not being able to understand the circumstances of us faced with epilepsy. Most people not experiencing it don’t care or like anyone with the problem- (simply because they know nothing about it).

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Karen — May 12, 2019 @ 2:57 PM

  3. 6 & a half years ago I had my worst GRAND MAL ever as far as I am concerned. It was at COSTCO when a concussion was a diagnosis after my head hit the concrete floor during the grand mal I was having. A COSTCO worker saw my head hit the floor & she came to my rescue, which I knew nothing about when she took my head and placed her knees on the floor with my head on her lap preventing my head from hitting that concrete floor more than it did. Seems like since that time my seizures have not stopped the pattern I have had since. Maybe my head needed to hit the concrete floor more to correct what was wrong with it then in Nov of 2012. How you can make brain chemistry be normal is a mystery to me, and neurologists never seem to know either, yet they make over 100,000.00 telling us what does not work, & we get 0.00 for doing what they say will help.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by CD — May 12, 2019 @ 3:18 PM

    • C D, I think the concussion syndrome only goes one way! Concussion = Epilepsy.

      But then you have to ask, what’s normal about brain chemistry?

      If only we COULD reverse the process…

      Or is that what the docs are supposed to do?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 12, 2019 @ 7:55 PM

  4. I went head first on corner table when I was 11. I believe I started the absense seizures and severe migrains shortly after but I was never diagnosed. When I reached puberty, I had no symptoms and was able to live a seizure free with no clue of epilepsy. Enter menopause. I started smelling weird things, high anxiety, and my children tried to tell me I was blanking out. I knew something was wrong but my pc dtr. attributed all to menopause. I had these type symptoms for two years until grandmal hit me at age 53. I am thankful living so long seizure-free, but it is very hard to adjust at my age now. All things taken for granted – driving, memory, no meds – are now past part of my life. It has been 4 years now. The simple partials not totally controlled, but I am learning how to live with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Regina Lovelace — May 12, 2019 @ 3:50 PM

    • Are you sure it wasn’t Catamenial Epilepsy rather than a concussion?

      Catamenial Epilepsy – Do You Have It?


      Or those lovely hormones?

      Seizures that are most likely to be affected by hormonal changes are partial seizures that involve the temporal or frontal lobes of the brain.

      However, hormonal associations may also be seen with generalized seizures. 

      And even though not all seizures are caused by hormones, they still can influence their frequency.

      I’m not a doc. (Thank goodness.)

      But just because epilepsy isn’t diagnosed, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      The BIG question is HOW and WHY?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 12, 2019 @ 8:03 PM

      • Thank you for the article link Phylis. Do you think it might be possible the concussion may have led to the catamenial epilepsy? I ask because I’m pretty sure it was a concussion, I was out cold. Back then you could call the dtr. who just told my mom not to let me go to sleep (!!). I looked liked the elephant man for at least a month. I started the bad migraines and absence seizures right before puberty, then seemed to just go away afterward. I’ve been diagnosed with right side fronto-temporal lobe, above my ear. Because of those hormones, or lack thereof, I have considered hrt but very leary of interactions with the aeds and also increase in seizures. The big questions I pray will someday be answered!

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Regina Lovelace — May 12, 2019 @ 10:16 PM

      • A concussion is a physical insult to the brain. Something that I believe, affects it structurally.

        Catamenial epilepsy is chemical, a reaction caused by hormones.

        How the physical affects the chemical, I don’t know.

        (But there’s a Nobel Peace Prize waiting for the person who correctly answers that question!)

        As far as HRT goes, blood tests of certain hormone levels, coupled with those of your seizure medication, may help answer the question of whether HRT is for you or not.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 12, 2019 @ 10:50 PM

  5. Tell me about it, I know, sucks


    Comment by Lisa — May 13, 2019 @ 3:40 PM

  6. Phylis, this describes my story to the “t”. I had a massive head injury at age 19, and my seizures started suddenly 4 years later. They continued for 16 years until brain surgery. I really hope there is some “epilepsy prevention” unearthed here. Thanks for your ongoing care & research!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Suzanna Price — May 15, 2019 @ 8:40 PM

  7. I totally agree with you, on that one. Nadine B.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Nadine Basten — May 19, 2019 @ 12:56 PM

  8. Stroke is also considered brain injury. I am post stroke 19 months now.


    Comment by Nita olson — December 30, 2019 @ 10:19 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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