Can Traumatic Brain Injuries Lead to Seizures?

A brain injury can affect a victim in unpredictable ways. One of the most frightening potential aftereffects of a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a seizure. A seizure should always be treated as a possibility after someone is diagnosed with a brain injury after a traumatic accident, such as a car crash or slip and fall. Learning how to spot a seizure and what to do in this scenario can help you help someone who has a traumatic brain injury.

The Link Between TBIs and Seizures

Traumatic brain injuries can alter the way that the brain functions. The exact symptoms caused by a brain injury can be difficult for a doctor to predict. In some cases, the electrical signals in the brain can stop going down the correct paths and cross one another. This can result in a seizure. 

A seizure is a sudden, chaotic electrical disturbance in the brain. This can cause a range of symptoms, including muscle spasms or convulsions. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder. It describes abnormal brain activity that causes multiple seizures over an extended period of time. A traumatic brain injury can cause both seizures and epilepsy if it changes the electrical activity in the brain.

Signs of a Seizure After a Traumatic Brain Injury

In general, the more severe the TBI, the higher the chances are that the victim will experience seizures or epilepsy. A seizure may occur immediately after a traumatic brain injury, or it may happen weeks or even months later. Studies show that victims who experience early seizures after brain injuries are more likely to develop post-traumatic epilepsy. Someone with a TBI may be experiencing a seizure if the following symptoms appear:

  • Sudden fatigue or dizziness
  • Falling to the ground
  • Crying out
  • Twitching 
  • Muscle rigidity and convulsions
  • Uncontrollable shaking or jerking
  • Out-of-body sensations
  • Being unresponsive or expressionless
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Trouble speaking and answering questions
  • Smelling, tasting or seeing something unusual

Most seizures that are caused by traumatic brain injuries are bilateral tonic clonic seizures, which start in one part of the brain and spread throughout the entire brain. It is sometimes possible to pinpoint the start of these seizures in the brain. Seizures connected to TBIs usually only last a few seconds or minutes. Some symptoms, such as confusion or fatigue, may last longer after the seizure, but are not permanent.

What Should I Do if Someone Experiences a Seizure After a TBI?

If you notice the signs of a seizure in someone who has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, step in to offer your assistance right away. Although this situation can be frightening, acting quickly can allow you to limit the effects of the seizure on the victim as much as possible. Take the following actions:

  1.  Keep others out of the way of the person having the seizure.
  2.  Clear the area of any hard or sharp objects that the person may hit.
  3.  Do not try to hold the victim down or restrain them.
  4.  Roll the person on their side to prevent possible choking.
  5.  Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. This could damage their teeth or cause choking.
  6.  Time the seizure using a clock or stopwatch, if you can.
  7.  Call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than three minutes.
  8.  Call 911 if the person cannot breathe or wake up after the seizure.
  9.  Upon waking, offer your reassurance to the person that everything will be okay.
  10.  Report the seizure to the person’s doctor.

You cannot stop a seizure once it starts. However, taking these steps can help prevent the victim from incurring further injuries during a seizure. If you believe the situation is an emergency, call 911 right away. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury after an accident in Kansas City and is experiencing seizures or epilepsy, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.