Soldiers suffer seizures years after service

Soldiers suffer seizures years after service
Published: Jul. 2, 2015 at 10:43 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2015 at 11:54 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It can be dormant for years; Life threatening seizures that seem to come out of nowhere, years after a soldier has served. 
Now, a local group is trying to reach out to veterans who suffer from PTSD to help them get treatment before these types of seizures show themselves.
"We fight for our children, we fight for our wives, we fight for our loved ones," retired Staff Sergeant Kyle Lankford said.  

[MORE: Fourth of July can cause PTSD flare up in veterans]

Lankford was an Army combat medic who received a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge for his service. In 2008, he was hit by a roadside bomb. 

"It changed everything," he said.

Lankford thought he'd recovered, but he was later he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Epilepsy that produce debilitating seizures. 

"Sometimes you don't feel anything," he said of the episodes. 
According to the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana, 53 percent of veterans who have suffered a traumatic brain injury may be affected by PTE. 

"They don't even know it yet. It may not even be presenting in their life, but one day it's going to," John Mustain, with Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana, said.

To make matters worse, Mustain said some veterans like Lankford also suffer from Non-Epileptic or Psychogenic Seizures that are triggered by PTSD. In this case, brain waves appear normal.

"With a person who is having a psychogenic seizure, it's an emotional presentation of the pain that they're having," Mustain said.

At Norton's Brownsboro Hospital, doctors are trying to figure out the difference between PTE seizures and those triggered by PTSD. 
"So Non-Epileptic Seizures is one of the least well understood areas of medicine," Director of Norton’s Neuroscience Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Doctor Gabriel Martz said. 
It may also take years for a seizure to occur. 

"I almost think of it as venting, pressure built up inside and it comes out," Martz said.

That's why Lankford urges his fellow soldiers to seek treatment for PTSD, especially if they've had a traumatic brain injury. He said not getting help is letting the enemy win.

"Don't let them defeat you. Don't let them cause that spark to go out," Lankford said. 
For more information about PTE or Non-Epileptic Seizures visit You can also contact John Mustain, the Director of Veterans Outreach for the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana at or (502) 637-4440 ext. 16 or toll free at (866) 275-1078.
The Norton Neuroscience Institute will host a free Neuroscience Expo July 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kentucky International Convention Center, located at 221 S. Fourth Street. There will be several educational sessions about epilepsy.

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