Emma Salvador

@slavadoremma26

Technological Breakthroughs to Track Epileptic Seizures

Epilepsy, a noncommunicable chronic disorder has affected the lives of millions across the world. According to World Health Organisation’s (WHOs) study on epilepsy, it is the world’s common neurological disorder with about 50 million people affected by the same. It is highly prevalent in young children aged less than 5. Moreover, it is commonly found in low and middle income countries where there is stigma attached to its occurrence. Nevertheless, thanks to the medical breakthroughs that have helped control the illness.

Apart from medications and therapy, technology innovations have also enabled the detection of seizures and to take timely preventive measures. Below are some of the most recent innovations in medical equipments to track epilepsy seizures.

Medical devices for Seizure Alert

As epilepsy is highly prevalent in adolescents and young children aged 5 or less, it becomes difficult for parents and families to monitor their health and to quickly respond. Moreover, seizures or involuntary movement of parts of body or the entire body vary from person to person. While some have temporary lapses that last only for a few seconds also called absence seizures other have convulsions and prolonged seizures. Though one cannot stop seizures from happening but knowing well in advance about its occurence can help protect against serious side effects. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared two medical devices that are breakthroughs in Epilepsy preventive care.

SmartWatches For Alerts

SmartWatches have been developed to detect the incidence of seizure in a person. These watches offer a number of features that have helped save lives of many. While some watches have the feature of alarm during seizures, the other can send messages using GPS to alert the caretaker. One such device has been developed by Empatica Inc.. The same got approved by the FDA after successfully testing its features. The watch has been developed using artificial intelligence algorithms that records the electrodermal activity. Thus, it help improve the diagnostics and characterisation of seizures in Epileptic patients. The watch raises an alarm in case it detects involuntary movements in body.

Another watch called the SmartMonitor has in-built GPS facility that can send message about the location to the caretaker incase a person is having seizure. Though these devices cannot control seizures but can alert the onset of convulsions and gives adequate response time.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy

Also referred to as pacemaker of the brain, has been developed to treat focal or partial seizures in case the person do not respond to medications. This vagus nerve stimulation therapy device is placed below the skin near the check and a wire is attached to the vagus nerve in the neck. The device works as a neuromodulator that changes the way how brain cells work. The changes are caused by electrical stimulations of the part of the brain that causes seizures. Research has shown that VNS therapy increase the blood flow in the part of the brain as well as raise levels of neurotransmitters that are related to controlling seizures. Besides, the therapy is particularly useful in controlling electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns of the brain.

Monitoring Cameras

Apart from smartwatches and VNS therapy device, cameras are another technological breakthrough that helps monitor involuntary activity of the brain. The camera with infrared eye detects the movements such as shaking movements while sleeping and raises an alarm. SAMi is one such device that send signals t o phone and records videos of the person. Thus, the devices enables the doctors to look at the seizures and accurately gauge the situation of the person to determine the next course of action.

Devices for Mattresses

Sensory devices have been developed that can record vibrations occurs on bed if a person has seizures. These vibrations are recorded and an alarm is raised. For instance, Medpage Movement alarm is one such mattress device that is place right under the mattress of the epileptic patient to monitor movement and sent out signals.

How AI helps in Detecting Seizures

Most of the medical devices that have come to the fore such as smartwatches, bracelets use AI or machine learning technology for early detection of seizures. The technology has been developed by using comprehensive EEG dataset of number of patients that reveal the pattern of functioning of electrodes and are used to form AI Algorithms. These algorithms are used to self train the stages of brain functioning thus easily detecting the seizures that are unique to a person.

These algorithms can also be updated or upgraded so as to provide patients the flexibility to control how advanced the warning of seizure is. Besides, a lot of research is being done to understand the individual manifestations of seizures and how imminent it can be.

Outlook

The many technology innovations and the way AI has changed our lives is laudable. But still there is need to research and develop devices that can help control the seizures as these might lead to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. To save lives, more innovations are the need of the hour.

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