Can Car Accidents Cause Seizure Disorders?

Sep 26, 2022

You may not expect a car accident to result in a seizure disorder, but it is definitely a possibility. Any injury to the head, neck, or back can potentially cause acute or chronic seizures. Your brain is the single most important organ in the body, it’s your onboard computer, and any damage to the brain can result in serious consequences.

Injuries that cause seizures are serious and need to be treated by experienced doctors as soon as possible. AICA Orthopedics Tucker treats car accident injuries daily and has top-rated neurologists, orthopedists, surgeons, and others on staff to take care of you from the initial injury until you are back to your daily activities. Our experienced car accident doctors and staff use a comprehensive approach to your care and work in collaboration with you and each other to get you the best outcome possible.

What Is a Seizure?

A seizure is sudden and atypical electrical activity in the brain. A common way they are described to the nonmedical community is the electrical signals in your brain have short-circuited because of the physical trauma to your brain. When the circuits aren’t working correctly, the signals misfire, resulting in a seizure.

If you suffer from chronic or repetitive seizures, you will hear this described as epilepsy. There are several types of epilepsy as well as many kinds of seizures. When describing epilepsy or seizures resulting from an accident, they are called either post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) or post-traumatic seizures (PTS).

Seizures as a result of head trauma severe enough to warrant hospitalization. Most often, these seizures will happen as quickly as minutes of the accident but can sometimes happen as soon as a few weeks out. Rarely do patients with head trauma have seizures starting months or even years after head trauma.

What Causes a Seizure in a Car Accident?

In the context of a car accident, a single seizure or a chronic seizure disorder is a symptom of a TBI or traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury is any trauma to your brain, usually resulting in some level of permanent brain damage. A wound to the head, open or closed, may cause the brain to swell or bleed. A bleed in the brain will prevent oxygen from reaching areas of the brain; this can lead to permanent brain damage. An injury to the skull can result in a hematoma under the skull, putting pressure on the brain and resulting in brain damage.

Concussions are a common form of trauma to the brain, caused by hitting your head. Concussions can be quite serious and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as [possible. Concussions are common in car accidents.

The most common cause of a TBI in a car accident is a deceleration injury. This occurs when the car you are in comes to an abrupt stop, but your body is still moving. The resulting jerk will cause your brain to bounce off the inside of your skull, causing injury.

After suffering a traumatic brain injury, neurologists are the best resource to help with care following an injury like this. AICA Orthopedics Tucker has extensively trained neurologists onboard to help you manage TBI recovery.

Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Long Term

  • Thought process
  • Difficulty With both long and short-term memory
  • Lack of consistency in mood and emotions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • headaches

Short Term

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • One-sided weakness
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Symptoms of a Seizure

Symptoms of seizures can vary greatly depending on the severity and type of seizure. Sometimes symptoms can be so minor you may not notice the seizure happening.

  • Staring into space
  • Lack of response to verbal and physical stimuli
  • Rapid, uncontrolled eye movement
  • Sudden fatigue
  • Inability to speak
  • Lack of comprehension when trying to converse
  • Lip smacking
  • Uncontrolled jerking of limbs
  • Shaking
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Changes in vision

○ Auras – often called a warning for an oncoming seizure, an aura can manifest in a variety of ways. Some patients describe them as a change in their taste or smell. Other patients say they have visual disturbances such as blurred vision, spots, or flickering lights. Auras do happen but are small focal seizures as precursors to a larger seizure.

  • Changes in smell, hearing, or taste

Types of Seizures

Generalized Seizures

Absence: Absence seizures are characterized by staring into space, eye blinking, and even lip-smacking. The estimated length of these seizures is less than 10 minutes, but they can happen incredibly frequently. They are not always apparent and are often accompanied by a loss of awareness, making them hard to track throughout the day.

Tonic-clonic: A tonic-clonic seizure has the appearance of a stereotyped seizure. It is noted by the convulsions a person will experience during the seizure. Tonic means stiffening, and clonic means jerking. A tonic-clonic seizure occurs in two phases, first the tonic and then the clonic.

These seizures last, on average, 1 to 3 minutes, and if they last longer than 5 minutes, emergency services should be called. During this type of seizure, the person will sometimes cry out or exhale heavily. They may fall and lose consciousness, followed by muscles jerking limbs and even the torso.

Focal Seizures

Simple: A simple focal seizure affects a small part of the brain. Symptoms may be milder, causing mild twitching or causing a strange smell or taste to manifest.

Complex: Complex focal seizures manifest as confusion or the affected person being unable to respond to verbal stimuli.

Secondarily generalized seizures: This type of seizure is a hybrid of focal and generalized seizures. They begin in one part of the brain as a focal seizure, and then spread to both sides of the brain as generalized seizures.

Types of body movements during seizures, defined:

Tonic: muscles become stiff

Atonic: muscles in the body relax

Myoclonic: jerking movements

Clonic: periods of jerking OR shaking

How Are Seizure Disorders Diagnosed?

The process of diagnosing seizures begins with diagnosing the head trauma causing the seizures. AICA Orthopedics has state-of-the-art imaging equipment to provide detailed and in-depth testing to assist in diagnostics.


An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is used to obtain a detailed view of the physical structures of your brain. These images are used to identify the causes of the seizures, including lesions, bleeding, or other damage.

Computerized Tomography

Also known as a CT scan, it utilizes high-definition x-rays to obtain a detailed image of the brain. It allows doctors to obtain a different level of detail to identify damage to your brain.


This test, also called an EEG, is a recording of brain activity. It maps the electrical impulses moving through the brain and into the rest of your body. It can identify any problems with the electrical activity and can uncover injuries such as bleeding on the brain or even swelling of the brain.

How Are Seizure Disorders Treated after a Car Accident?

For associated long-term symptoms of a seizure disorder and traumatic brain injury, your doctors at AICA Orthopedics Tucker are here to provide you with top-of-the-line care to improve your quality of life and reduce pain.

It is important if you have been diagnosed with epilepsy to have someone who can help you, especially in the early days of your diagnosis. You will want someone you trust in case you fall or are in other ways susceptible to further injury during a seizure.

The most common treatment for seizures is medication. The goal is to find a medication that provides adequate seizure control while limiting any side effects. This can be complicated and may take trial and error until the best combination is found.

For associated conditions such as chronic headaches, neurologists are a great resource as they specialize in both the brain and nerves. They can assess the initial injury and perform tests to see how the electrical pulses of the brain may be causing the headaches. A test such as an EEG can map out any issues the electrical pulses of the brain may be having.

Contact Us

If you have experienced head trauma following an accident, it is imperative you seek medical treatment promptly. Quick treatment often results in the best outcome, both short and long-term. If you have had a seizure following your car accident, please reach out to AICA Orthopedics Tucker; our neurologists can walk you through diagnostics and treatment options for your head trauma.

If you are experiencing seizures as a result of head trauma sustained during a car accident, you are likely suffering from associated injuries and symptoms. Our goal at AICA Orthopedics is to approach your injuries in a comprehensive manner. We want to treat you as a whole person, not a singular injury. Because of this, we have dedicated chiropractors who can assist with the pain and discomfort you may experience after a car accident. We also have physical therapists who will work with you to build strength and coordination in any muscles and lumps that may be impacted as the result of a traumatic brain injury.


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