The Link Between Epilepsy & Traumatic Brain Injury

Dec 08, 2014
Tagged with: The Link Between Epilepsy & Traumatic Brain Injury

The effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) can vary from individual to individual. One result of TBI that can manifest itself in different ways is epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that can result from TBI due to swelling and bleeding in the brain. Epilepsy may occur immediately after the injury occurs or much later. The cause and timing will be specific to the individual’s injury and recovery.

According to The Epilepsy Foundation, the term “epilepsy” is synonymous with “seizure disorder,” meaning those with epilepsy experience “…recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well.”

Seizures can be frightening for the individual as well as loved ones who are privy to these episodes. However, understanding brain injury, gaining knowledge and accessing medical support can aid in managing epilepsy as well as other effects of TBI.
Understanding Seizures

A seizure is defined as a “sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain,” which will alter the way a person feels and behaves. Seizures range in severity; some are mild to the point of barely being noticeable while others will require intervention and possibly medical attention.
Types of Seizures

• “Grand Mal” or generalized tonic-clonic: This is what many people typically think of when they hear the word “seizure.” The most severe type, those experiencing Grand Mal seizures may lose consciousness, experience convulsions and/or muscle rigidity
• Absence: This type of seizure involves a “brief loss of consciousness,” which is only a few seconds. These seizures may be barely noticeable and appear as though the individual is simply lost in thought or starring blankly. Most will not realize that a seizure has occurred if it is an absence seizure
• Myoclonic: This type of seizure involves involuntary movements, such as jerking on both sides of the body. This can be dangerous, as individuals may throw objects or hit during this type of seizure
• Clonic: Unlike myoclonic seizures, clonic involves rhythmic (not sporadic) movements on both sides of the body at the same time
• Tonic: As opposed to clonic seizures, tonic involves a stiffening of the muscles, making it impossible for the individual to move during the episode
• Atonic: This type of seizure can pose dangers, as it is characterized by a loss of muscle tone which can lead the individual to fall

What to do if Someone is Experiencing a Seizure

The steps taken to prevent injury during a seizure is dependent on the type.
Grand Mal

If someone is experiencing this type of seizure:
• Remain calm
• Remove anything sharp or of potential danger from the surrounding area
• Ease the person onto the floor and lay them flat with a pillow, jacket or folded blanket to offer support beneath their head
• Remove or loosen any constrictive clothing/accessories such as glasses and neckties
• If the seizure continues at the same severity for more than five minutes, call 911
• Do not attempt to hold down or stop convulsions
• Note that the stereotype of a person being at risk to “swallow their tongue” is false and attempts to open the jaw or apply a tongue depressor is dangerous and can lead to injury
• Turn the person gently to one side in order to clear the airway
• Stay with the person until the seizure has concluded
• Be calm and offer reassurance once the person regains consciousness

Absent Seizures

If someone is experiencing this type of seizure:
• Stay calm and reassure the person
• Block the person from any hazards or objects that could lead to injury
• Offer guidance but do not restrain the person
• Stay close to the person and stay with them until the seizure has ended

Help and Recovery

Recovery from TBI requires support. TryMunity offers various supports to individuals and families, as well as helpful tools for expediting the recovery process in relation to areas like memory.

For some tips and strategies on improving cognitive ability and memory skills with games, visit our previous blog.

Register with TryMunity’s online community now to meet others like you, share your story, learn and create a network of support.

 

References:
http://www.msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/Understanding-TBI/The-Recovery-Process-For-Traumatic-Brain-Injury

http://www.ddas.vermont.gov/ddas-policies/policies-tbi/policies-tbi-documents/tbi-trng-modules-workbks/training-module-3-stages-of-recovery

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23016534

Author: Shelly Duell