What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that affects a person’s brain activity. This can lead to seizures and other serious complications. Epilepsy is often diagnosed in young children, making it difficult for parents to monitor their children’s seizures at all times. Healthcare companies have created devices that help parents and those with epilepsy. These devices can track seizures and protect against serious side effects from seizures. While these devices aren’t treatments for epilepsy and don’t prevent seizures, they can provide peace of mind.
Why are devices for epilepsy useful?
A concern for a person with epilepsy is not only the seizures that are seen, but those that go undetected. This is especially true for seizures a person may have in their sleep.
The goal of epilepsy treatment is to use medications and other therapies to keep a person is seizure-free. However, it’s possible a person could think their epilepsy is controlled, but have seizures at night.
Another concern about seizures is the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). This occurs when a person passes away suddenly after a seizure. Although the exact causes are unknown, changes in breathing (such as something suffocating the person) or heart rhythms can be a factor. By detecting seizures, devices for epilepsy may be able to prevent SUDEP.
Wearing a MedicAlert bracelet is important for people with epilepsy. This allows emergency medical providers to quickly identify a person with epilepsy and get in touch with emergency contacts. A number of seizure alert devices are available. These range from traditional metal bracelets to soft, silicone bracelets. Some people also wear dog-tag style necklaces that read “epilepsy.” These accessories may also direct emergency personnel to a wallet card that shows a person’s medication list.
Some companies, such as American Medical ID, will engrave a personalized number and website for a healthcare provider to go to. The website has a medical record of the person wearing the bracelet. This allows fast access to medication lists and health information to help a person receive fast medical care.
Mattress devices are placed under a person’s mattress. If they experience a seizure, the shaking will cause vibrations that trigger an alarm. Examples of available mattress devices include the Medpage movement alarm and the Emfit MM sleep monitor. These monitors can provide peace of mind to parents who are concerned their child may have a seizure while sleeping without them knowing.
Another option for monitoring a person for seizures is a camera device. These devices use a remote infrared camera to detect movements. If a sleeping person has unusual movements, such as shaking seizures, the camera will trigger an alarm. One example of a seizure alert camera is the SAMi. This device will send a notification to a person’s phone and record video of a person’s seizure. This can help doctors view the seizure and provide more information about the type and nature of the seizure.
Suffocation is a cause of SUDEP. To prevent suffocation, there are anti-suffocation pillows available for people with epilepsy. An example is the Sleep-Safe pillow. This pillow is designed to prevent the blocking of airflow around a person’s nose and mouth. Although the pillows are manufactured in the United Kingdom, they can be shipped to the United States.
Smart watches for people with epilepsy can detect movements that may indicate a person is having a seizure. These watches can have a variety of features. Some sound an alarm to signal for help. Others send a message to a caretaker with a person’s GPS location.
One example is the Embrace smart watch, which can be worn on a person’s wrist or ankle. The watch detects involuntary movements and alerts caregivers when a person may be having a seizure. Another option is the SmartMonitor smart watch. This watch can issue seizure alerts to caregivers with a GPS tracking system.
These are just two examples of wearable tech that’s on the market. According to the American Academy of Neurology, there are several other devices on the horizon for monitoring people with epilepsy.
The BioStamp is a new sticker-like device designed to be worn on the body. It can transmit information on heart rate, temperature, and neurological activity depending on where it’s placed. Currently, the BioStamp is still in the research phase.
As technology continues to improve, more devices will likely be available to help people with epilepsy. This technology can inform healthcare providers and protect those with epilepsy by alerting caregivers whenever possible.
Insurance companies will help to support the costs for these devices in some instances. If you or a loved one has epilepsy, talk to your doctor about devices that could help.