Epilepsy is a disorder recognized by long-term, recurring seizures, and is a well-known and common complication after a traumatic brain injury. However, it is also known that people who have epilepsy are at greater risk for sustaining a traumatic brain injury in general. Depending on the type of epilepsy a person has and medication that is taken, a person with epilepsy may be susceptible to repetitive falls and injuries to the head that can result in recurring brain injuries.
A recent study of over 200,000 emergency department patients who were admitted for traumatic brain injury found that people who had epilepsy before the injury were more likely to have already sustained either a severe traumatic brain injury or had been admitted for a previous traumatic brain injury than those who did not have epilepsy. In addition, sustaining a traumatic brain injury was shown to potentially increase the severity of the pre-existing seizures.
Repetitive brain injury can not only intensify seizure activity, it can also lead to other complications such as an increased risk of mood disorder, sleep disorders, or brain degeneration. Special care, such as aggressive management of seizures, should be taken to prevent or reduce the risk of repetitive traumatic brain injury in people who have epilepsy.
Wilson DA & Selassie AW. Risk of severe and repetitive traumatic brain injury in persons with epilepsy: a population-based case-control study. Epilepsy & Behavior. (March 2014).