Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

Head Trauma in War Veterans Could Increase Epilepsy

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Mar 10, 2020

Handsome soldier reunited with family on a sunny day

Many veterans who are coming home after having suffered from head trauma are finding that epilepsy is an unfortunately common side effect. There are many patients that are now worrying about how the epilepsy is going to affect the rest of their lives. In some cases, they might be having seizures and going unconscious in front of their children, which can be traumatizing for the little ones. They also worry about being able to drive and the ability to hold down their jobs. They have the same worries and fears as others who suffer epilepsy, but it is all due to the head injuries they received in combat, or sometimes during training exercises.

Epilepsy Causes Life Changes

Because suffering from epilepsy often means that their former way of life is no longer viable, a number of veterans are worried about being able to find a job where they can make enough money for their family to survive. Many families are having trouble making ends meet.

This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, several years ago, Congress created epilepsy centers in the VA. These centers were implemented in order to help care for the troops who were coming home after being deployed in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and who suffered some type of head injury. Many of these injuries were due to the use of homemade explosives that were used against the military members. In some cases, people were even shot in the head. Even a serious fall could cause a traumatic brain injury.

Each year, the VA is seeing 66,000 epilepsy patients. The doctors who are treating the patients at these centers are using the same tools and treatments that civilian doctors are using. They will often utilize anti-seizure medications to help patients get better control over their seizures. As with other patients who have epilepsy, the medications do not always work. While they are useful for a large number of patients, and many patients will no longer continue to have seizures once they have medication, that is not always the case. It is not always successful, though, and those patients will need to seek other treatment.

Some Seizures are Unrelated to Epilepsy

In many cases, veterans are suffering from seizures that are not always related to epilepsy. In fact, the VA has estimated that there are around 100,000 ex-military members who are seeking treatment for seizures, which is up from around 70,000 20 years ago. The increase is linked to the TBIs that are received by veterans who have been to war. Those who have been near explosions, even if they were not physically injured, can suffer a TBI. In some cases, they might have fallen unconscious after the explosion, but even if they don’t pass out, it could still cause damage to their brain. In some instances, it has caused changes to their moods and even their memories.

Even though the armor that the troops are wearing can help them to survive injuries that would have been fatal a couple of decades prior, there is still the danger of head injuries. Despite the physical injuries not being as severe in many cases, the damage to the brain can go undetected for a long time.

Veterans who have seizures, whether they are related to epilepsy or not, will want to make sure that they get the treatments that they need from the VA. As with other patients, it takes some adjustment to their lives. Hopefully, with the research that is being done in the field of seizures and epilepsy, there will be more answers soon for those who want to get back on track with their lives.


Sources:

https://www.stripes.com/news/veterans/war-veterans-face-epilepsy-as-side-effect-of-head-trauma-1.249160

 

Topics: Veterans and Epilepsy/Seizures