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Seizures After Traumatic Brain Injury

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What do I need to know about seizures after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

You are 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. A seizure that happens soon after your injury may be caused by bleeding between your brain and skull or brain swelling. Seizures that happen later may be caused by permanent damage to your brain.

What are the symptoms of a seizure?

Your seizure may be defined as one type of a seizure or a combination. Each type of seizure may have different symptoms. You may have symptoms before the seizure starts such as dizziness, anxiety, or flashing bright lights.

  • A generalized seizure may affect both sides of the brain. After you have a generalized seizure you may have a headache or feel irritable. The following are different types of generalized seizures:
    • A tonic, clonic, or tonic-clonic seizure usually involves the whole body. A clonic seizure involves jerking body movements. A tonic seizure involves stiffening of the body. A tonic-clonic seizure is a combination of clonic and tonic seizures. It is also called a grand mal seizure. During any of these types of seizures, you may lose consciousness, your eyes may roll up and back into your head, and you may sweat all over your body.
    • A myoclonic seizure involves a sudden jerk of all or part of the body.
    • An atonic seizure is usually brief and causes a sudden loss of posture. You may fall suddenly to the ground.
    • An absence seizure is also known as a petit mal seizure. You may stare blankly into space, and will not pay attention to anything happening around you. Your eyes may flutter or blink repeatedly, and you may smack your lips. You may have several absence seizures throughout a day.
    • An atypical absence seizure looks like an absence seizure but with repetitive behaviors such as eye opening and closing, eyes rolling outward or inward, and body stiffening.
  • A partial seizure may affect one part of the brain. The symptoms may depend on where in the brain the abnormal activity is happening. It may be simple or complex. A simple partial seizure may not cause a loss of consciousness. A complex partial seizure may cause you to be less awake or alert. Both types of partial seizures may cause jerky muscle movements, confusion, hallucinations, sweating, or repetitive behaviors.

How are seizures diagnosed?

A seizure may be diagnosed based on your symptoms. You may need an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure the electrical activity in your brain. An EEG may help healthcare providers decide what treatments you need. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about an EEG.

How are seizures treated or prevented?

Medicine may be given to prevent a seizure. Medicine may also be given during a seizure to stop it. You may be given seizure medicine through your IV or as a pill.

How can healthcare providers keep me safe in the hospital?

Healthcare providers will keep your bed in a low position with the side rails up. They may also keep pillows or padding against the side rails to prevent you from being injured. Emergency equipment will be kept near your room.

What are the risks of a seizure after a TBI?

Seizures that happen soon after a TBI may slow your recovery. You may be at risk for developing epilepsy. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurring seizures.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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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