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Seizures after Traumatic Brain Injury in Children


Your child is at higher risk for a seizure after a TBI. A seizure is an episode of abnormal brain activity. A seizure may happen within hours after your TBI or weeks to years later. Late posttraumatic seizures increase your child's risk for developing epilepsy. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes repeated seizures. You can take steps to keep your child safe and prevent another seizure.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • Your child has a second seizure within 24 hours of the first.
  • Your child has trouble breathing after a seizure.
  • Your child cannot be woken after a seizure.
  • Your child has more than 1 seizure before he or she is fully awake or aware.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child is injured during a seizure.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child starts to have seizures more often.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may be given the following:

  • Antiepileptic medicine may control or prevent another seizure. Do not let your child stop taking this medicine without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

What you can do to help your child manage or prevent seizures:

  • Keep a seizure diary. Include when the seizure started and how long it lasted. Also include what your child was doing before the seizure started and if he or she had an aura. Ask anyone who saw your child have the seizure what he or she did during and after the seizure. Bring the seizure diary with you to all follow-up visits.
  • Set a regular sleep schedule. A lack of sleep can trigger a seizure. Try to have your child go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Keep your child's bedroom quiet and dark. Talk to your child's healthcare provider if he or she is having trouble sleeping.
  • Ask what safety precautions your child should take. Talk with your adolescent's healthcare provider about driving. Your adolescent may not be able to drive until he or she is seizure-free for a period of time. You will need to check the law where your adolescent lives. Also talk to your child's healthcare provider about swimming and bathing. Your child may drown or develop life-threatening heart or lung damage if he or she has a seizure in water.
  • Tell your child's friends, family members, and babysitters, and school officials about the seizure. Give them written instructions to follow if your child has another seizure.

What you can do to keep your child safe during a seizure:

Give the following instructions to your child's family, babysitters, friends, and school officials:

  • Do not panic.
  • Gently guide the child to the floor or a soft surface.
  • Do not hold the child down or put anything in his or her mouth.
  • Place the child on his or her side to help prevent him or her from swallowing saliva or vomit.
  • Protect the child from injury. Remove sharp or hard objects from the area, or cushion his or her head.
  • Loosen clothing around the child's head and neck.
  • Time how long the seizure lasts. Call 911 if a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if the child has a second seizure.
  • Stay with the child until the seizure ends. Let him or her rest until fully awake.
  • Perform CPR if the child stops breathing or you cannot feel his or her pulse.
  • Do not give the child anything to eat or drink until he or she is fully awake.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider or neurologist as directed:

Your child may need tests to check the level of antiseizure medicine in his or her blood. Your child's neurologist may need to change or adjust antiepileptic medicine. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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