(RxWiki News) Epilepsy affects approximately 50 million people worldwide. Patients sometimes have to stay in a hospital for days in order for doctors to monitor their condition. But a new wristband may make it easier.
The wristbands are as accurate as traditional electroencephalograms (EEGs), according to researchers, but are significantly less obtrusive than the scalp electrodes.
The improved monitoring could reduce patients risk of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).
"Ask your doctor about less obtrusive monitoring options"
The study was led by Rosalind Picard, ScD, a professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, who also helped design the wristbands with her team.
"I put a lot of thought into how to make it really comfortable and as nonintrusive as possible. So I packaged it all into typical sweatbands,” says wristband designer Ming-Zher Poh, PhD. "I allowed them to choose their favorite character on their wristband — for example, Superman, or Dora the Explorer, whatever they like.
To them, they were wearing a wristband. But there was a lot of complicated sensing going on inside the wristband."
The researchers measured 34 seizures from 11 children diagnosed with epilepsy using the new wristband as well as a traditional EEG. Heart rate was also monitored. They found that the wristband was able to accurately mirror EEG measurements of the length and severity of seizures.
The wristband uses skin conductance, a measurement of small electrical currents in the skin, to monitor the seizure. Since the wristband is designed to be comfortable, like a sports sweatband, it could be worn as the patient goes about his or her day.
The postictal state, or the altered state of consciousness experienced after a seizure, can last between about five and thirty minutes. Other research has linked longer postictal states with SUDEP.
The skin conductance measured by the wristband could predict the length of the postictal state, which can help patients decide if they should seek immediate medical attention or not.
The study was published April 25th, 2012, in the journal Neurology and was funded by the MIT Media Lab Consortium, Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, Wallace Research Foundation, and the Johnson Foundation.