Smart arm bracelet warns of nighttime epileptic seizures

Nightwatch could save lives without the hassles of other sensors.

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Nighttime epileptic seizures can be genuinely dangerous. If you have therapy-resistant epilepsy or a mental condition, you may have a one-in-five chance of dying from them. Thankfully, researchers at TUe may have a viable way of detecting and responding to those seizures in time to save lives. They've developed a smart arm bracelet, Nightwatch, that both detects signs of severe seizures and contacts care staff. It combines both a heart rate sensor and a motion sensor to look for both an unusually high heart rate as well as the rhythmic jolting characteristic of a seizure.

In trials, the bracelet caught 85 percent of serious epileptic seizures and 96 percent of the most severe cases. That may not sound reliable, but it's far more effective than a conventional bend sensor, which only detected 21 percent of serious attacks. It's also comfortable to wear, helping patients both fall and stay asleep.

The early Nightwatch model sends two separate alerts, one for each symptom. There's work to be done before the two can be combined and increase accuracy. The scientists have already created a company (LivAssured) to sell a finished product, though, and there are plans to coordinate the bracelet with audiovisual systems. Ultimately, the team would like to customize alerts on a patient-by-patient basis, ensuring that even those with unusual symptoms can get timely help.

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