Deployment history affected whether military veterans would develop epilepsy, with penetrating TBI having the greatest impact.

Among military veterans, deployment history is a significant predictor for epilepsy, with penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI) having the greatest impact potentially due to combat/blast. These are the findings of a study published in Neurology.

It is well-established that TBI is a risk factor for epilepsy. A fifth of post-9/11 era veterans have been diagnosed with TBI, however, combat-related TBI and noncombat TBI may have differing relationships with epilepsy.

To assess the effect deployment history has on epilepsy risk, researchers sourced data for this study from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Defense Health Agency (DHA). Veterans (N=938,890) who received care for 2 or more years from both the VHA and DHA were assessed for epilepsy on the basis of deployment history. Epilepsy was defined by medical coding for antiseizure medication and disability services related with epilepsy.

The study population comprised individuals who were deployed (n=663,272) and not deployed (n=275,618). The study participants were mean age 34.66 and 13.57% to 31.88% were women. The likelihood of having a TBI was more likely among deployed veterans compared with nondeployed veterans (33.94% vs 4.24%), respectively.

[D]eployment and deployment related risk factors are other important considerations in assessing epilepsy risk among veterans.

Among the deployed and nondeployed groups, 2.54% and 3.85% had epilepsy, respectively. The prevalence of epilepsy increased with TBI severity, with the highest prevalence occurring among veterans with a penetrating TBI (26.33%).

Other neurologic conditions, such as Alzheimer disease (AD) or frontotemporal dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson disease (PS), anoxic brain damage, and encephalopathy were more common among the nondeployed group. Among the deployed group, serious mental illness, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, were more common.

A total of 27 comorbidities had significant interactions with deployment history and epilepsy in the unadjusted analyses.


Source:, Jessica Nye, PhD