Real-time seizure alerts captured by SmartWatch equipped with accelerometer and Bluetooth technology

mHealth Research Daily with Tim Bredrup

Caregivers of epileptic patients are often concerned about unwitnessed seizures that can cause injury and sometimes even death. In an effort to address this concern, neurologists at Stanford University performed a study to determine if a wrist-worn accelerometer could accurately detect the classic epilepsy seizure known as a tonic-clonic, or grand mal seizure. Accelerometers measures changes in velocity or speed.

Individuals suffering from epilepsy who were admitted for continuous video/EEG monitoring also wore a wristwatch-size device that was programmed to detect rhythmic movements, such as those that occur during tonic-clonic seizures. When seizure movement was detected by the device, it sent a signal using Bluetooth technology to a computer that registered the exact time and duration of the event. Recorded detections from the wrist device were then compared with the routinely recorded video/EEG data in order to determine if they both detected the same information.

Out of forty patients who were studied, six had a total of eight tonic-clonic seizures. Of those eight seizures, seven were detected by the SmartWatch. Non-seizure movements were also detected 204 times, with the opportunity for the transmission to be cancelled by the patient or caregiver. A mere one false detection occurred during sleep.

In principle, this device should allow caregivers of people with tonic-clonic seizures to be alerted when a seizure occurs in their absence. This is particularly useful for caregivers of elderly people and children who have seizures. Such technology is promising for improving the quality of life amongst the epileptic community. Other solutions aimed at helping epilepsy patients live a more normal life include systems being developed by Wave Technology Group in Chicago and at the Holst Center in Europe.

Authors: Lockman J, Fisher RS, Olson DM

Institution: Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA

Original Abstract: Pubmed