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Noteworthy Publications

Epilepsy in Veterans with traumatic brain injury


Rosario Carballo demonstrates the placement of electrodes on Herblay Alonso. Both are on staff at the Epilepsy Center of Excellence at the Miami VA Medical Center.
Rosario Carballo demonstrates the placement of electrodes on Herblay Alonso. Both are on staff at the Epilepsy Center of Excellence at the Miami VA Medical Center. (Photo by Larry Gildstad)

Rosario Carballo demonstrates the placement of electrodes on Herblay Alonso. Both are on staff at the Epilepsy Center of Excellence at the Miami VA Medical Center. (Photo by Larry Gildstad)

By studying the medical records of Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans who sustained TBIs, researchers at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and the University of Texas found that Veterans with mild TBIs were about 28 percent more likely to have developed epilepsy than those without TBIs.

The researchers also showed that Veterans who suffered penetrating or severe TBIs had the highest risk of developing epilepsy, a finding similar to previous studies. The study looked at 256,284 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who received either inpatient or outpatient care at VA in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

According to a University of Texas news release quoting lead researcher Dr. Mary Jo Pugh, "We saw that 24 percent of the Veterans (in the study) who had epilepsy also had experienced a TBI. That is compared to 11 percent of people (again, in the study) without epilepsy. This is an important group to study because 15 percent to 19 percent of the more than 2 million returning Veterans have suffered a TBI with either loss of consciousness or altered mental status."

Pugh further explained that studies of Veterans from World War II and the Korean War have shown a link between combat-related head injury and epilepsy. The research team concluded that because war-related epilepsy in Vietnam Veterans continued 35 years after the war, a detailed, prospective study is needed to understand the relationship between epilepsy and TBI severity in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. (Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, April 1, 2014, epub ahead of print)


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