What is brain wave testing?
The EEG (electroencephalograph) measures brain electrical activity. Doctors know what normal brain activity looks like. People with epilepsy often (but not always) have detectable abnormalities in the EEG that points to the likelihood that epilepsy might be present. However, since most EEGs are taken when the person is not having a seizure, the EEG changes only indicate the possibility of any person having a propensity for epilepsy. This issue is complicated after traumatic brain injury because the injury can cause changes in the EEG that may or may not be associated with epilepsy.
The best way to diagnose seizures when they are not obvious or when the symptoms are being confused with other symptoms of TBI or PTSD, is by continuous EEG recording during the suspected seizure. This can be done sometimes by hooking a person up to a portable EEG and allowing them to go home for one or two days, during which the EEG records normal activity and anything that is suspicious for a seizure. The absolutely best method for recording seizures is to have the person stay in a specialized epilepsy monitoring unit for several days during which one or more events occur. Then the specialized doctors can look at the EEG and the concurrent video and determine the exact nature of the event. This kind of analysis is only available in specialized epilepsy monitoring units.