Seizure Auras Don't Affect Car Accident Incidence

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Contrary to prior study results, data from the Multicenter Study of Epilepsy Surgery showed that there was no difference in rates of motor vehicle accidents among people that have seizure with aura and those that don’t.

The findings, presented at the American Epilepsy Society annual meeting in Seattle, challenge the results of previous studies, some of which showed benefits for people with aura, and others that showed none. Researchers have hypothesized that aura warns a driver of an oncoming seizure, and gives them time to pull off the road before the seizure occurs.

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic separated 215 patients who reported seizures while driving into two groups, those who had accidents and those who didn’t. Two-thirds of the patients said they had reliable auras, while the remainder said they didn’t have auras or their auras were not consistent. Most patients’ auras lasted one minutes or less, 25 patients said their auras lasted over one minute, and 87 patients said they felt their auras lasted long enough to keep them from having accidents as a result of seizure.

Of the 87 patients that said they felt their aura protected them from accidents, 55 (63%) had a motor vehicle accident. Patients that said they didn’t trust their auras had nearly the same rate of accident occurrence (67%). Accident rates were similar among patients who reported long versus short auras, and those who said they trusted or didn’t trust their auras to protect them.

Although current American Academy of Neurology, American Epilepsy Society and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines support “consistent and prolonged auras” as “favorable modifiers” to determine driving safety, the researchers recommend that the guidelines be reviewed based on the study’s results. 

Car accident
Seizure Auras Don't Affect Car Accident Incidence

Recommendations to allow epilepsy patients to drive if they have reliable pre-seizure auras should be reconsidered in light of a new study, a researcher said here.

Data from the Multicenter Study of Epilepsy Surgery — in which patients were asked at baseline about driving, presence of seizure auras, and seizures and accidents while driving — found no difference in rates of mishaps incurred on the road whether or not participants said their seizures reliably were preceded by auras, according to Vineet Punia, MD, currently at the Cleveland Clinic.

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