What Is Post-Traumatic Epilepsy Following a Brain Injury?

When a person suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), it often turns into a complex and potentially life-altering event, leading to various complications. One serious complication is post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE). PTE refers to the occurrence of seizures following a TBI, creating additional challenges for individuals already coping with the aftermath of a severe head injury. Anyone who suffers a brain injury in an accident should contact a Virginia Beach brain injury lawyer for legal assistance.

What Is PTE?

According to information released by the Epilepsy Foundation, approximately one in 50 brain injury victims develop post-traumatic epilepsy. Studies show that there is a correlation between developing epilepsy and the severity of the brain injury. The most likely head injuries leading to PTE are penetrating head injuries, severe skull fractures, diffuse axonal injuries, and intracranial hematomas.

Seizures within the first week or coma lasting more than 24 hours are also early predictors that an individual may develop post-traumatic epilepsy. PTE seizures occur at least one week following the injury. If seizures occur within the first week of the injury, they are referred to as post-traumatic seizures rather than epilepsy.

How Does PTE Occur?

The exact mechanisms leading to the development of PTE are not fully understood, but several factors have been identified. The initial trauma disrupts the normal functioning of the brain, causing changes in neuronal networks and increased excitability. This altered state may create a favorable environment for the development of epileptic activity. Additionally, inflammation, gliosis, and structural changes in the brain contribute to the development and persistence of epilepsy following TBI.

Who Is at Risk?

Developing effective strategies for managing PTE involves identifying individuals at a higher risk of developing epilepsy after a TBI. Factors such as the severity of the injury, the presence of intracranial hemorrhage, and the age of the individual at the time of injury play significant roles. Advanced imaging techniques, genetic studies, and comprehensive clinical assessments can help identify those at risk, enabling early intervention and monitoring.

In many cases, PTE usually occurs in the first two years following the brain injury. This is why it is critical for medical providers to keep a close eye on the victim for the first 24 months following a serious TBI. If the victim does not have any seizures within those first two years, the risk of developing the condition decreases after five years.

Treatment for PTE

Managing PTE requires a multidisciplinary approach involving neurologists, neurosurgeons, and rehabilitation specialists. Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are commonly prescribed to control seizures, but their effectiveness varies among patients. Treatment plans are tailored to the specific needs of each patient, often including speech therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and physical therapy, along with the prescribed medications.

In some cases, medications do not work, and surgical treatment may be necessary to remove part of the patient’s brain tissue that may be causing the PTE.

Let Our Personal Injury Law Firm Help

A brain injury is often a long-term or permanent injury requiring rehabilitative care, especially if the victim develops PTE. The financial costs of caring for a brain injury victim through the course of their life can be overwhelming and carry heavy financial burdens. A Virginia brain injury attorney from our firm can pursue financial damages against the at-fault party that will assist your family in providing the care your loved one needs, including future medical care, loss of income, pain, mental anguish, and permanent disability, like the $600,000 insurance settlement we were able to obtain for one client who suffered a brain injury when her vehicle was slammed from behind by another vehicle, causing her car to crash head-on into a tractor-trailer.

Contact the legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation to learn how we can help. Our personal injury firm also has satellite offices in Hampton, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.