The Role for Seizure Alert Devices
The Role for Seizure Alert Devices January 2017
by Dr. Anita Datta, MD, FRCPC
Epilepsy is unpredictable and therefore many people with epilepsy and their caregivers experience constant fear of when a seizure will occur. Overall quality of life is impacted. During a seizure a person is generally unaware and unable to call for help. Many people with epilepsy or their caregivers keep seizure diaries, but there is a difference between recording and detecting seizures.
How could a seizure alert device help?
A seizure alert device may help notify others if a seizure happens and could be of practical benefit for the seizure management. The devices can notify nearby family or caregivers when a seizure occurs through alarms, phone calls or text alerts, depending on the device. A caregiver can then help the person during and after the seizure. For example, they can help reposition the person, making sure they are on their side if they are not conscious. If breathing or other problems occur, they can call for medical help. Additionally, this type of device could alleviate some of the concern and fear associated with the constant risk of recurrent seizures by giving an opportunity for intervention, including first aid and medication administration.
Accidents and injuries are more frequent in people with epilepsy compared with the general population, and the majority of accidents occur at home. Convulsive seizures in particular are a risk factor for both seizure-related injuries and sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). A device to detect seizures, both during sleep and wakefulness, may be able to help reduce the risk of injury and possibly SUDEP. This could also allow the person to be more independent because the parent or caregiver would not need to keep him or her under constant surveillance because of a concern the person may have a seizure.
What types of seizure alert devices are currently available?
The seizure alert devices available at present are motion detection devices. There are currently 3 types of devices readily available:
- Mattress devices/movement sensors
- Watch devices/accelerometers
- Camera/video/infrared devices
4. Seizure alert dogs are frequently used to detect seizures
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