Doctors viewing a computer monitor with brain MRI scan images

Do Seizures Cause Brain Damage? How Seizures, Epilepsy, and Brain Injuries Interact

A common question for many is, “Do seizures cause brain damage?” For people who have experienced a seizure, this question can weigh heavily on their minds. You may have heard about a general connection between terms like seizures, epilepsy, and brain injury, but you might not understand how they all fit together. 

If you or a loved one have suffered a seizure, brain injury, or both, it’s essential to understand some basic information about what these are, what causes them, and how they interact. Knowing how these connect can have significant impacts on your ability to obtain a legal damages award.

What Are Seizures? What Is Epilepsy?

Seizures

Seizures involve uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. There are different types of seizures, with varying symptoms and intensity of symptoms. For instance, focal seizures can result in unexplainable emotional changes, nausea, or even hallucination. Other types, such as generalized seizures, may result in: 

  • Physical convulsion
  • Thought disturbances
  • Falling to the ground
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Massive muscle spasms

Many causes can trigger seizures, including stress, alcohol, lack of sleep, or other conditions. The types and symptoms of seizures depend on many factors, including:

  • Where the abnormal electrical activity is occurring in the brain
  • The patient’s age and general health
  • What the cause or trigger of the seizure is

Seizures can also be caused by head injuries (such as a blow to the head), brain tumors, various types of chemical exposure, genetic or infectious illness or fever. In about half of the patients with seizures, no cause can be found. 

Epilepsy

In comparison, “epilepsy” refers to a specific chronic medical condition. It is characterized by recurring, unprovoked seizures. A patient may be diagnosed with epilepsy if they have at least two unprovoked seizures that were not caused by a specific, known and reversible medical condition like low blood sugar. Diagnosis can also occur in cases where a person has one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of having more. 

Epileptic seizures are typically related to two main causes: brain injury, or genetic inheritance. In many cases, the cause is entirely unknown. The term “epilepsy” doesn’t specify any background about the cause or severity of the seizures. Many patients who have epilepsy may also have more than one type of seizure.  

Blurred image of woman in pink shirt on the floor simulating a seizure

Do Seizures Cause Brain Damage?

The relationship between seizures and brain damage can be cyclical. On the one hand, seizures can lead to brain injury; on the other hand, a brain injury can result in seizures later on. 

Seizures Causing Brain Injury

Scientific evidence and research have long shown that prolonged seizures can kill brain cells and cause other damage. More recent research also suggests that smaller, recurring seizures can also contribute to nerve cell injury within the brain. This can be associated with cognitive decline and an erosion in the patient’s quality of life. 

Seizure-induced brain damage can be highly dependent on the age and developmental stage of the patient. Adult and juvenile brains are more susceptible to damage after seizures than are the brains of newborns and infants. Again, the damage and changes in brain functioning depend highly on the type of seizure or epilepsy involved. 

Brain Injury Leading to Seizures

As for the other side of the coin, seizures can often appear after or as a result of traumatic brain injury. In this regard, a person can experience:

  • Early Post-Traumatic Seizures: These are seizures that occur within the first week after a traumatic brain injury. About 25% who experience an early post-traumatic seizure will have another seizure in the months or years following the initial injury. 
  • Late Post-Traumatic Seizures: These are seizures that occur more than seven days after a traumatic brain injury incident. About 80% of persons who experience a post-traumatic seizure will have another seizure. Thus, they may be at higher risk of being diagnosed with epilepsy later on down the line. 

Additionally, the type of brain injury can often dictate the likelihood that the victim will experience a post-traumatic seizure. Consider the following statistics:

  • 20% of people with closed-head injuries that cause bleeding between the brain and the skull will experience seizures. “Closed head” means that the injury did not penetrate the skull and the brain components.
  • More than 35% of patients who needed two or more brain surgeries after a traumatic brain injury will experience late post-traumatic seizures.
  • 65% of patients with brain injuries involving bullet wounds have seizures. 

To summarize, prolonged seizures can result in brain damage, while recurring seizures can also have adverse effects on brain functioning. In turn, traumatic brain injuries can also lead to various types of seizures, which may cause further damage. 

What this tells us is that regardless of a person’s situation, any seizure incident is worth looking into and seeking medical treatment. If a person close to you is having a seizure, you should seek medical attention immediately to avoid prolonged damage. 

Conversely, if a person has had a brain injury, they should stay observant and take note if they have had any seizure-type incidents after their initial injury.

Man looking out window with blinds holding temples in discomfort

How Seizures Can Affect a Brain Injury Lawsuit 

An injury victim who has also experienced seizures may be at serious risk for additional complications and medical difficulties. They may develop difficulties in performing everyday tasks, communicating with loved ones, commuting, and performing various work tasks. Their relationships may undergo strain as a result of the drastic changes caused by the initial injury, as well as by the seizures. 

In many instances, seizures and brain damage or traumatic brain injury are the results of the actions of another person or party. For example, brain injuries can be caused by:

  • Negligence or recklessness, such as in a car accident where the other driver disregarded road safety laws
  • Intentional conduct, such as when a person strikes another person on the head
  • Medical malpractice cases, such as a botched brain surgery
  • Defective product injuries, especially those involving dangerous pharmaceuticals 

In such cases, it may be necessary to pursue legal action. Monetary damages awards can help provide compensation for medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other costs. 

Contact an Experienced Attorney at the Brain Injury Law Center

Seizures, epilepsy, and brain injuries are complex health matters that can have severe effects on a person’s long-term health. If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. 

Seizures and other conditions may not appear immediately after an accident. However, there are strict filing deadlines for brain injury lawsuits. As such, you should contact an attorney as soon as you suspect that you may have a brain injury. Even seemingly mild concussions and brain injuries can lead to long-term complications that can affect everyday life. 

The attorneys at The Brain Injury Law Center are devoted to helping seizure, epilepsy, and brain injury patients recover. What sets us apart is our knowledge of the laws surrounding brain injuries, as well as our technical understanding of the science behind brain injuries. 

Get in touch with us today at (757) 244-7000 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team is on hand to help you obtain compensation and alleviate the unwanted burdens your injury has placed on you and your family. 

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