Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Lifesaving Epilepsy Warning Device

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Scientists at the Kempenhaeghe epilepsy centre at Eindhoven University of Technology, in the Netherlands, have developed a new wearable epilepsy warning device that detects 85% of all night-time epilepsy seizures. The bracelet, dubbed Nightwatch, has taken over 20 years to develop and can possibly reduce the number of patients at risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) worldwide by a staggering two-thirds. SUDEP is a major cause of mortality in epilepsy patients, and those with an intellectual disability and therapy resistant epilepsy can have up to a 20% risk of dying from it. If successfully implemented, Nightwatch could potentially save thousands of lives.

 

 

From the Eindhoven University of Technology article: "The research team prospectively tested the bracelet, known as Nightwatch, in 28 intellectually handicapped epilepsy patients over an average of 65 nights per patient. The bracelet was restricted to sounding an alarm in the event of a severe seizure. The patients were also filmed to check if there were any false alarms or attacks that the Nightwatch might have missed. This comparison shows that the bracelet detected 85 percent of all serious attacks and 96% of the most severe ones (tonic-clonic seizures), which is a particularly high score."

 

The results of the wearable device's prospective trial were recently published in an article in the scientific journal Neurology. The device works by using a heart rate sensor and a motion sensor to recognize an abnormally fast heartbeat and rhythmic jolting movements; two characteristics of a severe epilepsy attack. When a severe attack is detected the bracelet wirelessly sends a signal to caregivers. In the future, they hope the two systems within the bracelet can work intelligently with one another allowing for patient-specific signal interpretation and alerts.

 

Read more about the wearable lifesaving epilepsy warning device at the Eindhoven University of Technology.