WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common form of injury in servicemen and women returning from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
- It is the leading injury among these servicemen and women.
- Post-Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE) is a seizure disorder that is caused by TBI.
- The Risk of PTE increases with the severity of the TBI.
- There are available resources to help veterans and family members receive accurate information regarding PTE and TBI.
- 1.64 million soldiers have served in the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts
- 320,000 of these soldiers will experience traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Between 15 percent and 34 percent of TBI patients have post-traumatic epilepsy, and active military rates can be as high as 52 percent
- Between 48,000 and 169,000 soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to develop post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE)
WHAT IS TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)?
A traumatic brain injury occurs when a person's brain is physically injured, usually by sudden force. With military members, this injury is often the result of a concussive blast or explosion. The frequent use of improvised explosive devices (IED) increases the changes of exposure to such risks. Because the damage is internal, there may be no visible head wound.
There is a wide range in severity of TBI; some individuals can recover completely without medical intervention while others may have permanent and total disability. Any brain injury, whether mild, moderate or severe, should be checked out by a doctor. The Risk of post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) increases with the severity of the TBI.
WHAT IS POST-TRAUMATIC EPILEPSY (PTE)?
PTE is a seizure disorder that is caused by TBI. It is most likely to occur after an open or penetrating wound to the head, but sometimes it can follow a closed head injury. The incidence of PTE is highest in the military because soldiers are at a higher risk for TBI than the general population.
Seizures are characterized by a sudden change in movement, behavior, sensation or consciousness produced by an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain. Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. Epilepsy is also called a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy.
The VA has funded the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence. The Centers of Excellence are charged with: (1) establishing a national system of care to all veterans with Epilepsy, (2) educating veterans and others in their lives impacted by Epilepsy about high quality Epilepsy care, (3) providing health professional education and training in order to deliver the highest quality of standard of care to veterans with Epilepsy, (4) utilizing national VA and other databases in order to inform providers and policy makers in Central Office about health care delivery and health policy decisions, (5) conducting state-of-the-art research about Epilepsy, and (6) implementing an informatics backbone to meet the above objectives.Click here.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important, but military personnel may underreport mild TBI to avoid removal from combat situations or active duty and go undiagnosed. The role of family and other caregivers is critical to help facilitate and encourage early diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosing PTE is a multi-step process and treating epilepsy involves many different people. The team may include the primary care physician, nurse, social worker and specialists such as neurologists.
The Epilepsy Foundation has created the Veterans Outreach Program that is designed to:
- provide education on the link that exists between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and epilepsy, and
- increase the numbers of veterans who are screened for TBI.Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy is a pocket‐size booklet that has been designed to educate veterans and their families about the relationship between TBI and epilepsy. To receive a copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-332-1000.
There are more resources available in our online store. You can purchase apparel, books, pamphlets, CDs, DVDs, and more. There are also FREE materials, but you do have to cover the cost of shipping & handling.
Landmark Study Shows Epilepsy/Brain Injury Impact in Veterans (page 13)
From auto accidents to wartime wounds, penetrating head trauma is the leading cause of new-onset epilepsy in young adults, with up to 30,000 new cases per year in the United States.