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Neurological disorders in vibroacoustic disease II - Epilepsy



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Neurological disorders in vibroacoustic disease II - Epilepsy   January 2005

P. Foreid,  A.J.F.M. Pimenta,  Mariana alves-pereira,  N.A.A.C. Branco

Introduction. Epilepsy was the starting point of the research into the effects of low frequency noise (LFN, <500 Hz, including infrasound) exposure. Non-purposeful movements, reminiscent of epileptic-like events, were the first major observation in aircraft technicians during an aircraft run-up procedure, in 1979.

This occurrence prompted the investigation into the number of aircraft technicians already diagnosed with epilepsy in that aeronautical plant.

The astounding number of 10%, versus the 0.2% national average, laid the foundation for the research project that has spanned the past 25 years. Today, vibroacoustic disease (VAD) is known as the whole-body pathology caused by excessive exposure to LFN.

Methods. A chronological overview of the cases of epilepsy is undertaken, beginning with the first LFN-exposed population that was studied - aircraft technicians. Other LFN-exposed professional groups, as well as individuals who are environmentally exposed to LFN, have also been diagnosed with late-onset epilepsy.

Results. Epilepsy has been observed among many VAD patients, whether their exposure is occupational or environmental. An unusual case of reflex epilepsy due to contact with a vibrating object is also reported, among others. Civil aviation cabin crew-members, as well as some members of the general population are at risk for LFN-induced late-onset epilepsy.

Discussion. A diagnosis of late-onset epilepsy can be indicative of excessive LFN exposure, although only the more severe cases of VAD lead to epilepsy. It is important that physicians be aware that a diagnosis of epilepsy may be associated with excessive LFN exposure, in order to provide better care for patients.

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