Wearable Devices Aim to Monitor Epileptic Seizures
Three different approaches in development
By Tara Haelle
TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Wearable devices aimed at tracking seizures in epilepsy patients are being developed, researchers report.
Three such devices -- a patch, an arm band system and wrist-worn monitors -- were reviewed in three separate studies and presented this week at an American Epilepsy Society meeting in Philadelphia.
They do not yet have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as medical devices for recording seizures. However, their success could be very helpful to neurologists treating patients with epilepsy, said Dr. Clifford Segil, a neurologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. Segil was not involved in the research.
"Wearable technology being used by neurologists is not as up-to-date as technology being used by cardiologists in 2015," Segil said. "Seizures are a very diverse group of disorders, which are not easily managed, and work still needs to be done on how to record brain waves in an abbreviated fashion that will allow neurologists and patients to have an early warning system."
One device, an EEG Patch, is a roughly 1-inch square patch worn on the scalp for seven days. Another is Brain Sentinel, a device worn with a strap on the biceps that measures skeletal muscle electrical activity from the skin (surface EMG) and is under FDA review, according to the researchers. The third method relies on existing wearable technology that records heart rate, blood oxygen in the arteries and electrical conductivity in the skin.
Another epilepsy expert agrees that more detection tools are needed.
"Doctors are often making decisions about medication dose changes, surgical candidacy or decisions about activity restrictions, such as driving, based only on the clinical history provided by the patient," said Dr. Sean Hwang, an attending neurologist at North Shore-LIJ's Epilepsy Care Center in Great Neck, N.Y., who was not involved in the research. "These devices may offer another tool to quantify seizures more reliably, which could have significant impact on treatment decisions."
An estimated 1.2 million U.S. patients with epilepsy have seizures that cannot be managed or controlled, according to background information from Mark Lehmkuhle, chief executive officer and chief technical officer of Epitel Inc., maker of the EEG patch. His research was funded by Epitel, the Epilepsy Foundation and the State of Utah Economic Development Council.