Epilepsy-related injuries

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Only one prospective, controlled study has compared the risk of accidental injury in persons with epilepsy to controls without seizures. A mildly increased risk in the epilepsy group was found, predominantly due to injuries that result directly from a seizure. With regard to injury type, this study found significantly higher rates of only head and soft tissue injury; however, most injuries were minor. Several retrospective, population-based studies have suggested increased rates of more serious injury types. Submersion injury has a high mortality; the risk of submersion in children with epilepsy is 7.5-13.9 fold higher than in the general population. The risk of fracture is elevated approximately twofold, either resulting directly from seizure-induced injury or predisposed by drug-induced reduction in bone mineral density. Burns due to seizures account for between 1.6% and 3.7% of burn unit admissions. The risk of motor vehicle accidents in drivers with epilepsy also appears increased, albeit marginally. Several factors predispose to a higher risk of injury among those with epilepsy. Seizures resulting in falls increase the risk of concussion and other injuries. Higher seizure frequency, lack of a prolonged seizure-free interval, comorbid attention deficit disorder, or cognitive handicap may also increase the risk of injury. While some restrictions are necessary to protect the safety of the person with epilepsy, undue limitations may further limit achievement of independence. Given the high morbidity and mortality of submersion injury, those with active epilepsy should bathe or swim only with supervision; however, showering is a reasonable option. Appropriate vitamin D and calcium supplementation and periodic measurement of bone mineral density in those at risk for osteopenia are recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Accidental injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Submersion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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