Patients' experiences of injury as a result of epilepsy

Epilepsia. 1997 Apr;38(4):439-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1997.tb01733.x.


Purpose: The increased risk of mortality among people with epilepsy is well documented; people with epilepsy are more likely than the general population to die as a result of an accident. Data about incidence of nonfatal accidents and associated factors are not so readily available, even though such accidents are more common than fatal injuries. We report the proportion of people who sustain various injuries during a seizure and the key variables predicting injury.

Methods: Questionnaires were mailed to an unselected, community-based population of patients with epilepsy. The questionnaire included clinical and demographic details, previously validated scales of psychosocial well-being, and questions about seizure-related injuries.

Results: Of patients who had had at least one seizure during the previous year, 24% sustained at least one head injury, 16% sustained a burn or scald, 10% a dental injury, and 6% some other fracture. Seizure type, seizure severity, and seizure frequency were key predictors of having sustained at least one of these four seizure-related injuries. Key predictors of burn/scald were seizure severity, seizure frequency and sex; those of head injury were seizure severity and type; that of dental injury was seizure severity; and those of some other fracture were seizure severity, duration of epilepsy, and three or more drug-related adverse effects.

Conclusions: These data help identify significant risk factors associated with seizure-related injuries and so facilitate sensible patient counseling about how the risks of such injuries can be minimized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data
  • Burns / diagnosis
  • Burns / epidemiology
  • Burns / etiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Jaw Fractures / diagnosis
  • Jaw Fractures / epidemiology
  • Jaw Fractures / etiology
  • Probability
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Tooth Injuries / diagnosis
  • Tooth Injuries / epidemiology
  • Tooth Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology