A new device designed to monitor epilepsy is able to detect 85 percent of all severe night-time seizures.
The bracelet, known as Nightwatch, is a big development in epilepsy wearables, according to its researchers in Netherlands. 28 intellectually disabled epilepsy patients were monitored over an average of 65 nights per patient. Their results were published in the journal Neurology, report agencies.
People with an intellectual disability and severe therapy-resistant epilepsy possibly have a 20 percent lifetime risk of dying from epilepsy, the researchers said. A major cause of mortality in epilepsy patients is sudden unexpected death.
“A substantial amount of the people with treatment-resistant epilepsy have seizures at night,” said lead researcher Dr. Johan Arends.
“Because the seizures can have serious consequences, both professional and voluntary carers want to be able to observe them as early as possible.”
Nightwatch was developed because night-time seizures were difficult to monitor effectively.
The bracelet that recognizes two essential characteristics of severe attacks: an abnormally fast heartbeat and rhythmic jolting movements,which it then sends as a wireless alert to caregivers or nurses.
34 participants were tested over a total of 1,826 nights, during which there were 809 major seizures. Six of them did not complete the study.
The bracelet was restricted to sounding an alarm during a severe seizure. To check if there were any false alarms or attacks that Nightwatch might have missed, the patients also were filmed.
Besides a success rate of 85 percent of severe attacks, it detected 96 percent of tonic-clonic seizures.The current device for detecting seizures – a bed sensor that reacts to vibrations due to rhythmic jerks – only detects 21 percent of serious attacks.
Arends believes it may reduce the number of cases of sudden death due to epilepsy by two-thirds, expects the device to be widely used among adults in institutions and at home.
The bracelet generates separate alarms based on the two sensors but the Tele-epilepsy Consortium is investigating how the two can act together for even better alerts. The consortium is also working on improving alarm systems on sound and video.
NightWatch has been available to healthcare institutions since early this year, as well as limited availability for home use.