Post traumatic epilepsy caused by brain injury

This blog is part of a brain injury series and discusses epilepsy caused by brain injury. This is often known as post traumatic epilepsy or PTE.

Causes of post traumatic epilepsy

By no means everyone who suffers a brain injury will go on to develop epilepsy but a significant brain injury does lead to an increased risk of developing epilepsy.

The way in which a traumatic brain injury can lead to epilepsy is not fully understood by the medical professionals. Some people think it could be caused by scarring to the brain that may disturb electrical signals. Either way, the risk of developing epilepsy is generally greater with a more severe injury, for example a penetrating head wound or an injury that causes bleeding on the brain.

Onset of epilepsy 

Epilepsy may start shortly after the head injury has occurred or, in other cases, it may not develop until months or years after the injury. Research has shown that the longer a person goes after the injury without developing epilepsy, the lower the chance that it will develop.

Treatment for post traumatic epilepsy

Where a person goes on to develop post traumatic epilepsy, there are a number of different anti-epileptic drugs that may be given to reduce or prevent further seizures. If the first medication that you take is ineffective or causes unpleasant side effects, your treating doctor may be able to recommend an alternative medication.

Brain injury rehabilitation

At Moore Barlow we have many clients with traumatic brain injuries. A real priority for us is to try to arrange rehabilitation (ie treatment). Where a person has already developed epilepsy, they would normally be referred to is a neurologist. Rehabilitation will often also include sessions of neuropsychology and may include treatment by a neuropsychiatrist.

Legal case

Once you have had a period of rehabilitation and any symptoms have started to settle down, we would then arrange for you to be seen by independent medical experts for the purpose of the legal case. These would be likely to include a neurologist or possibly a neurosurgeon (particularly if they underwent brain surgery after the accident). If the patient has not already developed epilepsy, one of the most important things we would ask neurologist to confirm is what they believe the chances are of them developing epilepsy in the future.

If the neurologist says that the patient has an elevated risk of epilepsy, we may be able to claim something called “provisional damages” and (if the court agrees to award provisional damages) the way it works is as follows. Where the medical evidence shows that there is a chance that, at some time in the future, the patient will as a result of the accident develop some serious disease or some serious deterioration in his injury, the court will assess the compensation on the assumption that the patient will not develop this deterioration or disease but will allow them to go back to the court if in the future this deterioration occurs.

How Moore Barlow can help

Matt Tuff is a senior associate in the Major trauma service department at Moore Barlow. As well as recovering compensation for our clients, Matt places particular emphasis on securing rehabilitation for them at an early stage. He have extensive experience of working closely with expert case managers and rehabilitation companies to secure this goal.

Please visit the major trauma website page or contact Matt Tuff.