The Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published the results of a case study on March 4, 2019, documenting the resolution of posttraumatic epilepsy following a traumatic brain injury. Posttraumatic epilepsy is when seizures occur for longer than a week in a person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The study notes that posttraumatic epilepsy may be as common as 13.8% of people who suffer a traumatic brain injury, depending on the severity of the trauma to the brain. They report that the risk of seizure immediately after an injury is slight, but over time that risk increases until the five-year mark when the risk then starts to decrease. Of those that develop seizures after a traumatic brain injury, 86% can be classified as posttraumatic epilepsy.
Men are more likely to develop posttraumatic epilepsy then women. It is estimated that about half of all people with posttraumatic epilepsy will only experience three or fewer seizures and then go into spontaneous remission. Of all cases of epilepsy, posttraumatic epilepsy makes up less than 10% of that total.
In this case, a 19-year-old man brought himself to the chiropractor six months after suffering a head trauma. The injury occurred when he was struck on his head by a 12 pound fully loaded nail gun that had fallen off a roof. Immediately, he was rushed to the hospital bleeding, confused, and disoriented.
CT scans and radiographs taken at that time were negative for fracture or internal bleeding. Subsequently, over the next six months, MRIs, electroencephalograms (EEG), and neurologic exams all were negative. As time passed, he developed progressive dizziness, headaches, and at times stuttering and mental fogginess. He was prescribed several medications for his symptoms. Despite all the negative tests, and medications he was given, by six months after the injury, the man was suffering multiple seizures each day.
A chiropractic evaluation was performed which included a postural analysis, palpation, spinal thermal heat readings, and spinal x-rays. The results of the examination revealed that subluxation was present in the top bone of the neck, known as the atlas. Specific chiropractic adjustments were then started to address this subluxation.
Almost immediately after starting chiropractic care, the man’s seizure frequency and duration began to reduce. In the first month of care, the man only experienced four seizures compared to an average of 2-3 seizures he was having per day prior to chiropractic.
Two years later, the man was going to the chiropractor infrequently and was only suffering occasional headaches and dizziness. A later follow-up ten years after he started chiropractic care reported that the man no longer suffered from any seizures.
In the discussion for this study, the authors reviewed additional research regarding epilepsy and chiropractic. They noted, “Several case reports and literature reviews demonstrate improvement in patients with epilepsy under chiropractic care, specifically of the upper cervical type.” They continued, “A trend among the case reports was upper cervical chiropractic care being beneficial for patients with epilepsy.”