Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The epileptic patient will exhibit recurring bouts of sensory disturbances, possible loss of consciousness and convulsions or spasms also known as seizures. For the most part, the cause of epilepsy in two out of three patients is unknown. Medical science has been able to diagnose the disorder but unless there is some medical condition that can be pointed to as having caused the disorder, healthcare providers continue to remain in the dark. With that said, however, those known causes can be diagnosed when an individual presents to his healthcare provider with epileptic symptoms, who previously had a healthy functioning brain, but has now developed recurrent seizures after suffering from some form of illness such as a brain tumor, stroke, or some type of head injury resulting in brain trauma.
Post-Traumatic Epilepsy vs. Post-Traumatic Seizures
Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) is a disorder that may result from a brain injury. The symptoms of PTE are displayed in recurrent seizures. Traumatic brain injury can cause this form of epilepsy in its sufferers and may constitute about five percent of all cases of epilepsy. It is unknown how or why this may occur, but the development of epilepsy usually depends upon the type and the severity of the brain trauma.
It should be noted that there is a definite distinction between post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) and post-traumatic seizures (PTS). PTS is a single occurrence of a seizure as a result of a brain injury, whereas PTE is the recurring seizures that a patient may have over time, and for the rest of his life. For more information on PTE and PTS, see MedScape.com.
What are the Different Types of Seizures?
There are varying types of seizures that fall into two specific categories. The severity of the brain injury and the portion of the brain that is affected will determine the type of seizure the patient is most likely to have. A patient can exhibit one or more of these types of seizures at different times. Seizures are either (1) generalized which means that there is a widespread discharge of electrical energy that involves the entire brain all at once; or (2) partial, involving one portion of the brain, only. See Living With Epilepsy at the Epilepsy Foundation.
Living With Post-Traumatic Epilepsy
There is no known cure for epilepsy. The medications prescribed for treatment is to relieve and manage the seizures. Antiepileptic drugs are usually the prescribed medicine for this treatment. These drugs will prevent seizures as long as they are taken regularly by the patient. About 50 percent of the patients using these drugs will be able to control any seizures for long periods of time. See Living With Epilepsy at the Epilepsy Foundation.
As a caveat, there are quite a few drugs on the market that are used to prevent seizures. These antiepileptic drugs can have severe side effects. If you or someone for whom you are providing caretaker services have been prescribed any of these types of drugs, make sure you consult with the prescribing physician regarding these side effects, and that you fully understand what they are.
So little is known about the functioning of the brain, so in the event of a head injury, your first thought should be to seek immediate medical attention. Any delays may have unintended consequences, and may result in additional injuries that may be avoidable, and that may also prolong your suffering. If your injury is as a result of the negligent or intentional act of another individual or entity, you will need to consult with an attorney experienced in this area, please call the law offices of Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation.