Scientists in the Netherlands are optimistic that their new device will reduce the number of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) patients worldwide. Currently, for people with an intellectual disability and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy, the outlook is poor, with a possible 20 percent lifetime risk of dying from epilepsy. While several techniques exist for monitoring patients at night, many seizures are still being missed.
With this in mind, a consortium of researchers (from Kempenhaeghe epilepsy centre, Eindhoven University of Technology, the Foundation for Epilepsy Institutions in the Netherlands (SEIN), UMC Utrecht, the Epilepsy Fund, patient representatives, and LivAssured) developed Nightwatch, a bracelet that recognizes unusually fast heartbeat and rhythmic jolting movements, two critical characteristics of severe attacks. When these occur, the device sends a wireless alert to caregivers or nurses.
In a test among 28 intellectually handicapped patients with epilepsy, over an average of 65 nights, Nightwatch detected 85 percent of all serious attacks and 96 percent of the most severe ones (tonic-clonic seizures). In comparison, a bed sensor, which is the current detection standard, sounded the alarm for only 21 percent of serious attacks. While the bed sensor was silent once every four nights per patient, the Nightwatch only missed a serious attack once every 25 nights, on average.
Prof. Dr. Johan Arends, neurologist and research leader, expects that the bracelet may reduce the number of SUDEP cases by two-thirds, although this also depends on the speed and efficiency with which caregivers respond to the alerts.
Source: MedicalXpress.com, October 29, 2018