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Monitoring Patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries

New Techniques to Monitor Patients at Risk of “Silent Seizures”

Many patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) may continue to suffer severe side effects even years after the initial head trauma. According to a recent article in Stars and Stripes, a military hospital has developed new techniques to monitor patients with TBIs. The hospital primarily developed the techniques for US service members who require treatment and care for head injuries they sustained on active duty, but these methods can be helpful to TBI patients throughout the United States.

Why do we need new monitoring techniques? Neurologists treating TBI patients have warned that not all seizures are immediately visible. In certain instances of seizure, even someone with an untrained eye can recognize a seizure if he or she sees a person falling to the floor or observes the person’s muscles stiffening or twitching out of control. Other obvious signs of a seizures include the eyes rolling back or the eyelids fluttering. However there are many seizures that are not as dramatic or easily observed. According to the article, a “silent seizure can ripple across regions of the brain without any visible clues—and with potentially damaging effects.”

As such, researchers and healthcare providers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, a U.S. military hospital, recently became capable of detecting silent seizures. In order to detect this type of seizure, which is also known as a nonconvulsive seizure, neurologists have begun using a diagnostic tool that is referred to as continuous electroencephalography (cEEG). It allows neurologists to digitally record the electric impulses in a patient’s brain, which gives medical professionals “a critical and early window into the cerebral function of patients after traumatic brain injury.”

This new monitoring tool is crucial in many head trauma cases, as early TBI patients may in fact have more of a risk of experiencing seizures. It is now being used both domestically and abroad. While it is not a new technology entirely, it is a new application of this technology to help provide critical care for TBI patients.

Brain Injuries and Seizures: What You Should Know

According to the Model Systems Knowledge Transition Center (MSKTC), seizures are not rare after a traumatic brain injury. Although a majority of TBI sufferers may not experience a seizure, there are several important facts about a TBI and seizures to keep in mind:

  • Most seizures happen within the first few days or weeks following a traumatic brain injury.
  • In rare cases, seizures can occur even months or years following a head trauma.
  • When TBI patients do experience seizures, between 70-80 percent can return to normal activities with medication.
  • Seizures rarely result in death, but they can cause very serious complications and additional injuries.
  • About 25 percent of TBI sufferers who experience a seizure in the first week after their brain injury (this is called an early post-traumatic seizure) will experience another seizure in the coming months or years.
  • About 80 percent of TBI patients who experience a seizure more than a week after the initial injury (a late post-traumatic seizure) will have additional seizures, known as epilepsy.

If you or a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury, contact an experienced brain injury attorney to determine if you are eligible to seek financial compensation for your injury.

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