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Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Cause
Seizure Disorders and Epilepsy

It is well known that one of the most frequent causes of seizure disorders and epilepsy is traumatic brain injury. It doesn’t matter whether the initial injury to the brain was mild, moderate or severe, any brain injury can result in this condition. The repercussions of this condition affect all aspects of life from school to social situations to work. Because this condition is serious and may last a lifetime, it is important to contact an attorney who concentrates his/her practice in representing persons who suffer from brain injuries.

Q: WHAT IS A SEIZURE?

A seizure is an electrical explosion in the brain. All brain activity is controlled by electrical impulses caused by the individual nerves firing charges that pass from one nerve cell to the next. When a seizure occurs, the nerve cells do not fire properly and instead fire with sudden, short and intense energy.


Q: WHAT IS EPILEPSY?

Epilepsy is simply more than one seizure. Epilepsy is simply the name given to the condition of multiple seizures.


Q: HOW LONG AFTER AN ACCIDENT WILL SEIZURES DEVELOP?

Seizures can develop at any time. Seizures may develop immediately after the accident and are called immediate seizures. If they develop with the first 24 hour hours they are called early onset seizures. They may develop days or even weeks later when they are classified as late seizures. A seizure disorder can even develop after the first year following a brain trauma!We do know that the earlier in time a seizure develops, the greater the risk for future seizures. The risk of future seizures and traumatic epilepsy is increased by each successive seizure.


Q: ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SEIZURES?

Seizures come in all shapes and sizes Although a seizure will always start in a specific part of the brain, it may or may not spread to other areas.

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Michael Kaplen, Chairperson of the Brain Injury Association Annual Conference, Understanding the Medical & Legal Aspects of Traumatic Brain Injury

GENERALIZED SEIZURES:
When a seizure starts in one area of the brain and then spreads to other areas, it is called a generalized seizure also known as a grand mal seizure.We are all familiar with this type of seizure which generally results in a violent shaking of the arms,legs, head and neck and is referred to as a convulsion. This event often is associated with loss of consciousness.But a person can have a generalized seizure without a convulsion. In these cases, the person will have just a blank look and will appear to be staring off into space. They are disconnected from everything around them and are unaware of what is going on during this period of time.

PARTIAL SEIZURES:
In partial seizures only a small part of the brain is affected. The seizure or electrical activity remains confined to one area of the brain and does not spread to other areas. The person may be conscious or unconscious during the seizure. The seizure itself may or may not involve the shaking that happens with grand mal seizures. The experience depends on where in the brain the electrical discharge occurs. Frequently the experience is an altered sense of taste or smell, a feeling of fear or uncontrollable outbursts or crying. It can involve waking up from a sound sleep, dizziness, bed wetting and sometimes a twitching of the face, arm, hand or leg. It can even be a sensation such as numbness, tingling, the hearing of unusual sounds or voices.

 


Q: HOW IS A SEIZURE DISORDER DIAGNOSED?

An EEG, also known as an electroencephalogram is a device used to diagnose epilepsy. It is designed to measure the electrical activity in the brain. BUT, because the electrical firings that cause seizures may not be occurring when the EEG is taken, the results are often normal even though the person has a seizure disorder. In many instances when the EEG is normal, a doctor who wants to confirm the seizure disorder, may order a 24 hour continuous EEG and may also videotape the person in a hospital room for the same time and correlate what they see with the EEG tracings.Sometimes the only way to diagnose epilepsy is by careful and detailed questioning of the individual suspected of having the condition and their close friends and family members.

 

 

Provided by
Michael V. Kaplen, Esq.

Professorial Lecturer at Law
The George Washington University
School of Law

Chair, State of New York
Traumatic Brain Injury
Services Coordinating Council

3 Term president,
Brain Injury Association of NYS

Past Chair,
American Association for Justice
Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group

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