Epilepsy Talk

Head Injuries and Seizures | January 15, 2021

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. I’m sure that is a living hell where a person has had a seizure from any TBI they have had. I know it is a living hell after you have been living with seizures for over 50 years, and then you get a TBI even on the skull & not the brain as to what a CAT SCAN showed up as what happened from going through a GRAND MAL seizure & then you head cracks the concrete floor at a COSTCO. Well my seizure pattern changed some from that day over 8 years ago on THANKSGIVING DAY WEEK, and the concussion I had felt like my head was filled up with water for more than 1 week. No headache but just a heaviness of pressure filled my head, and no SEIZURES all through that time had happened, & no seizure happened until MARCH of the next year, almost 4 months later. Over 8 years has gone by & never has my neurologist ever think to look back at that time since, to see if anything ever has changed in over 8 years, that maybe can be corrected today. THAT is what seems to amaze me as I guess any TBI does not matter when seizures have happened before any TBI happens after 52 years of seizures. Now it’s over 60 years of this hell, & nothing ever seems to change much unless it is for the worse from one thing or another related to seizure life. Still I will always LOOK UP for the answers I need as far as God’s grace & mercy & for his miracle healing that I know he can do for all of us IF it is his will to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — January 15, 2021 @ 2:50 PM

    • I guess it goes from bad to worse as I cracked my head on the brick pathway steps, long after I had been diagnosed with seizures. It was zoom eyeballs, I couldn’t focus, function, do much of anything, except good to bed like a limp rag.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 15, 2021 @ 5:30 PM

  2. This interests me because for 40 years, I didn’t know what caused my epilepsy. When I was two, I got pushed down a flight of stairs by my brother and felt that could have caused it. Then again, I had a birth weight of 12 lbs. 9 oz. and later had a 105 fever.

    From the scar tissue from my surgery, they were able to tell it was the fever that caused it but I felt it was going to be the head injury.

    If they come up with a treatment for this, that would be great!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ed Lugge — January 15, 2021 @ 2:56 PM

    • That’s a pretty tall order Ed. Besides, I think you’ve had your miracle. 🙂

      If only others had the same angels watching over them.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 15, 2021 @ 5:36 PM

      • It’s just a natural reaction. When you see your miracle, you want everyone else to see theirs, too.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Ed Lugge — January 15, 2021 @ 6:23 PM

      • Ed, you’ve got a heart of gold.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 15, 2021 @ 6:33 PM

  3. My epilepsy was diagnosed at age 65 after I collapsed at a local grocery store, hitting my head. I don’t remember anything until waking up in the ER. We had just returned from a holiday in Cuba andI had stopped for a few groceries after doing some paperwork at the office. Had I not stopped for groceries I’d have been driving so that was a blessing. As my family has a history of heart issues, my dr thought there had possibly been a heart incident causing my fall and hitting my head. Also had aspiration pneumonia. I then had a second grand mal in the ER. I spent a week in the hospital and months after going through heart, lung and brain tests to be told it was epilepsy. I have been on Dilantin since and have had no seizures in the 2 years since. I was shocked to find out I had epilepsy at this age but was told it was not unusual. I am now changing from Dilantin to Lamictal so hope this transition goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Cathy Urlacher — January 15, 2021 @ 5:10 PM

    • Sounds familiar. When they told me I had to get off Dilantin because of Vitamin D issue, they wanted me to take Lamictal so it must be a popular change.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Ed Lugge — January 15, 2021 @ 6:31 PM

  4. Lamictal is wonderful. It’s been very good to me. At first, it made me hyper/crazy. But when I changed my bedtime dose to 6:00 PM, I settled down and all was fine.

    99% seizure-free for 10+ years! I wish the same for you, Cathy.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 15, 2021 @ 5:44 PM

    • Do you sleep through the night Phyllis? I find I wake up about 3 and usually am awake for quite awhile until I can go to sleep again.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Cathy Urlacher — January 15, 2021 @ 6:34 PM

  5. I passed out hitting my head on the edge of a granite counter top hitting a hard tile floor. I was out for 3 hours. When I came to I was sore all over my head felt like it was going to explode ! It was also dark outside. I had a pretty good size goose egg on my head.

    When I was age 5 I climbed a tree, went out on a branch that was about 20 feet high. I lost my balance or had a seizure took a header onto a nice fleshly paved road. I’m glad my head is as hard as it is. Oh I remember my mother screaming.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Bonnie — January 17, 2021 @ 2:49 AM

    • Wow, you are one hard-headed lady!

      Do you think it was the tree or the granite counter that did it? What kind of seizures do you have?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 17, 2021 @ 9:27 AM

      • I was born with seizures.I have both grand mals a petit male seizures.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Bonnie — January 17, 2021 @ 6:03 PM

  6. A question I would have first about research on preventing the development of epilepsy after a brain trauma, especially from a car accident: Would a car insurance company pay for any epilepsy prevention therapy for up to 4 years? My experience of being diagnosed with epilepsy 2 years after a car accident resulted in “idiopathic” epilepsy back in the 80’s and the time status for insurance claims was long expired. What could change that now? A therapy of something cheap?

    Recently a fall I had from wearing a Covid mask at night causing me to lose orientation-NOT a seizure-left me with a goose bump on my forehead. My homeopathic doctor prescribed me an oil formula to apply 3x a day to the spot and some oral drops 2x a day . Three months later I was able to eliminate the oil ( no more pain while sleeping) and reduce the drops to 1x a day, still continuing into the 5th month. These are considered to be preventative of negative developments….We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Andrea Kay Whitcomb — January 17, 2021 @ 11:15 AM

    • I don’t think a car insurance company would pay for epilepsy prevention. With the way they work, you’d be lucky for them to pay for any kind of seizure, after-effects or damage.

      Your homeopathic doctor sounds like a whiz. I don’t know whether to say you are lucky or you are blessed!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 17, 2021 @ 11:23 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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