TBI & Delayed Post-Traumatic Seizures in Veterans

TBI & Delayed Post-Traumatic Seizures in Veterans

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be serious injuries in and of themselves. However, these injuries, such as concussions, can also lead to delayed post-traumatic seizures or TBI seizures. TBI seizures can lead to further negative consequences or health side effects for Veterans who experience them.

Read on if you or a loved one have experienced a delayed post-traumatic seizure. We’ll explore what these seizures mean and how you can acquire benefits or VA compensation for your seizures and their related injuries or conditions. Read on for more information.

What Are Delayed Post-Traumatic Seizures?

Delayed post-traumatic seizures occur after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI is any injury to the brain that occurs from blunt force or penetrative trauma. A concussion is a good example – when you suffer a concussion, your brain impacts the inside of your skull and becomes bruised.

Traumatic brain injuries can be dangerous or even deadly in some circumstances. They frequently accompany symptoms like confusion, dizziness, unconsciousness, memory loss, etc.

However, brain injuries can also lead to seizures in the moment or after the fact. A seizure is an electrical event characterized by abnormal electrical activity in your brain. Seizures are usually accompanied by symptoms including but not limited to:

  • Sudden or long-lasting tiredness or dizziness
  • Fumbling movements
  • Changes in your senses, like taste, smell, or hearing
  • Unusual movement of the eyes, head, or body
  • Not being able to speak
  • Confusion
  • Intense mood swings
  • Twitches or explosive bodily movements

In some cases, seizures can be dangerous as well. For example, if a seizure causes you to fall to the ground and shake, you may hit your head again or damage other body parts by accident.

While some seizures occur immediately during or after a TBI, others occur sometime after the primary traumatic event. Delayed post-traumatic seizures are any seizures that occur more than a few hours after a traumatic brain injury. They’re dangerous because they include the same risks as regular seizures, and the victim may not be under medical attention when they occur.

PT seizures can lead to the development of post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE), which can cause severe traumatic brain injuries or other problems. Antiepileptic drugs or EEG treatments may be necessary to treat these severe TBIs and ongoing conditions.

When Can Delayed Post-Traumatic Seizures Occur?

Delayed post-traumatic seizures can technically occur at any time. However, there are two broad types of seizures after TBIs which are characterized based on when they occur:

  • Early post-traumatic seizures occur within one week of a TBI. Approximately 25% of individuals with early post-traumatic seizures experience at least one more seizure several months or years in the future. They develop a condition called epilepsy.
  • Late post-traumatic seizures occur more than one week after a TBI. According to most traumatic brain injury model systems, about 80% of individuals who experience late post-traumatic seizures will develop epilepsy.

Early and late seizures are both dangerous and may lead to neurotrauma or skull fractures. Many organizations, such as the Epilepsy Foundation and the Brain Trauma Foundation, have large research bodies on these conditions. Their studies found that severe brain injuries and contusions (such as closed head injuries) often result in life-long conditions or problems.

In this way, delayed post-traumatic seizures are highly indicative of epilepsy development. Veterans who develop epilepsy can recover compensation and benefits for the rest of their lives. They may need to pay for therapy and anticonvulsant medication (or surgeries, in the worst cases).

In many cases, Veterans who experience post-traumatic seizures must take anti-seizure medication forever. They may require caregivers to protect them from head trauma and to observe their conditions. The chances of epilepsy events may decrease, but they’ll still face an increased risk of hemorrhage and hematoma in the brain. This can affect their lives and family members.

Telltale Signs of Post-Traumatic Seizures

Any time someone suffers trauma or serious injury to the head or brain, potential long-term and residual side effects may develop. Some of these are more severe than others. From chronic headaches to post-traumatic seizures, you deserve compensation for your injury or disability after serving and sacrificing for your country.

It is important to watch out for signs and symptoms of post-traumatic symptoms, even if it has been years since an injury occurred. These signs include:

  • Balance problems that might affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headaches/migraines
  • Loss of sensory function (hearing, taste, smell, vision, touch)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue

Risk Factors for TBI Seizures

The highest risk factors for TBI seizures are occupations or events that cause TBIs in the first place. Many military Veterans may be in danger of suffering traumatic brain injuries because of their work or duties. 

For example, in a combat mission, a Veteran may experience an explosive event and develop or aggravate a traumatic brain injury. Then they are at a higher risk of seizure during or after treatment.

Other common risk factors for TBI seizures include:

  • Having a high fever
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Alcohol use and/or drug use
  • Changes in the body’s chemical balance, such as low magnesium, low-sodium, or high calcium

In many cases, medical professionals can tell when a Veteran is at a high risk of experiencing one or more seizures during initial or follow-up examinations. However, this is only possible if an injured Veteran gets medical attention right away and is kept under close medical observation for several weeks after a TBI injures them.

Will You Always Experience a Delayed Post-Traumatic Seizure After a TBI?

There’s no guarantee that you will have or experience a delayed post-traumatic seizure after a traumatic brain injury. However, the risk is significant enough that it’s important to get checked out by a medical professional if you ever experience a head injury in the line of duty.

Veterans Benefits and Post-Traumatic Seizures

Veterans may receive disability benefits and compensation for traumatic brain injuries that lead to lasting disabilities or medical conditions. Similarly, they can receive disability compensation for post-traumatic seizures that are directly caused by an in-service event or injury.

For example, if a Veteran experiences a head injury during work, they may recover compensation if they are partially disabled due to that injury. If the Veteran develops late post-traumatic seizures and epilepsy because of that head injury, they may also recover compensation for epilepsy in perpetuity.

However, for veterans to qualify for compensation, post-traumatic seizures must be caused or aggravated by a service-connected injury or incident or be service-connected.

Are Post-Traumatic Seizures and Side Effects Service-Connected?

Sometimes. It depends on whether an in-service event or traumatic brain injury caused or aggravated the seizures in question.

For example, if a Veteran develops epilepsy randomly or without experiencing any head injury or trauma, they may not be eligible for VA benefits. That’s because they may have developed epilepsy regardless of what job they undertook or where they were.

In contrast, if a Veteran is injured in an explosion during their time in the military, then develops seizures after the fact, it’s reasonable to assume that they developed those seizures because of the explosion rather than something else (like genetics or randomness). In most cases, the VA assumes that head injuries are the causes of seizures experienced by Veterans, even well after the fact.

If you’re a Veteran who began to experience post-traumatic seizures weeks or months after a head injury, you may still be eligible for compensation. Don’t assume you aren’t eligible for disability benefits just because your seizures did not start right after a head injury.

What Are the VA Ratings for Seizure Disorders?

The VA rates major seizure disorders like epilepsy on a scale from 10% to 100%. Your rating will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the frequency of your seizures. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 10% rating if you require medication like Carbamazepine (Tegretol) or Phenytoin to control your seizures
  • 20% rating if you had one major seizure in the past two years or two minor seizures in the past six months
  • 40% rating if you had two major seizures in the past year or have 5 to 8 minor seizures per week
  • 60% rating if you had three major seizures in the past year or have 9 to 10 minor seizures per week
  • 80% rating if you had 4 to 11 major seizures in the past year or have 11 or more minor seizures per week
  • 100% rating if you had 12 or more major seizures in the past year

It is not possible to get a 0% disability rating if you are diagnosed with epilepsy or some other seizure disorder.

Getting Compensation for Post-Traumatic Seizures

To acquire compensation for delayed post-traumatic seizures and related conditions like epilepsy, you should fill out VA Form 21-526. This is how you’ll file a claim for disability benefits in general.

You’ll then need to collect supplementary evidence that substantiates your claim. You’ll need to prove:

  • That you experienced a head injury because of your time in the military. For example, if you slip and fall and hit your head on something hard, getting a concussion. As a result, this can still count as a service connection – the injury doesn’t have to be a result of some specific action, like a combat action
  • That your seizures began after your head injury

Furthermore, it may be beneficial to collect lay statements and medical evidence from healthcare providers or therapists substantiating your symptoms. 

Knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys can help you gather this evidence and ensure you understand the disability benefits application process by answering any questions and helping you file paperwork properly.

Contact Berry Law Today

TBIs can be dangerous initially and later if they trigger delayed post-traumatic seizures in Veterans. Veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic seizures may qualify for compensation, provided that the TBI or seizure in question are connected to their military service.

If you have questions about your compensation or qualifications for benefits, Berry Law can help. Our educated and experienced Veterans law attorneys are well-equipped and ready to assist with your benefits claim or appeal, so contact us today.


Seizures after Traumatic Brain Injury | PMC 

Epilepsy | CDC 

38 CFR § 4.124a – Schedule of ratings – neurological conditions and convulsive disorders. | Cornell

Focus on Traumatic Brain Injury Research | National Institute of Neurology Disorders and Stroke

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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