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The Epidemiology of Epilepsy and Traumatic Brain Injury: Severity, Mechanism, and Outcomes (PTE)

Epilepsy, or seizure disorder, affects 1 in 26 Americans. People who have survived a moderate, severe, or penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to develop epilepsy than similar people without a TBI. Some evidence also suggests that people who have experienced a mild TBI may be at slightly higher risk of epilepsy.

Through the PTE study, the TORCH team is studying the risk of deployment related mild TBI on epilepsy. Many Veterans of the Post-9/11 conflicts have sustained one or more mild TBIs. There may be an increased risk of epilepsy for these Veterans. To understand this better, we are studying the health outcomes of Veterans with or without TBIs, who may or may not have epilepsy. The PTE study accounts for TBIs experienced throughout the lifespan of the Veteran. Data is being collected in several phases.

Previous phases of the PTE study used self-reported health data via surveys and interviews. 2,600 Veterans completed the survey and 350 Veterans completed semi-structured health interviews. These self-report data will help us understand unique impacts of TBI and the relationship to epilepsy for individual Veterans. In the current phase of this study, Veterans in the catchment area of the Salt Lake Veteran Affairs Medical Center will have an opportunity to participate in a brain scan using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This will help our research team better understand difference causes of seizures for Veterans with or without TBI. These participants will also complete assessments for memory, attention, strength, and coordination among other factors that could affect the functional outcomes of seizure activity.

Visit the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs or the Department of Defense Veterans Brain Injury Center for more information on TBI for Veterans.