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Canadian League Against Epilepsy

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Seizure detectors

Two important concepts have to be understood: seizure prediction devices and seizure detection devices.

A seizure is predicted when a warning signal can be transmitted seconds, minutes or hours before an actual seizure begins. The ability to reliably warn a person that a seizure is coming would make quite a change and would allow avoidance of risky and embarrassing situations. Unfortunately, to this day, working seizure prediction devices are tested only on a research basis using intracranial electrodes recordings. While exciting, this research has not yet translated into a commercially available device.

A seizure is detected when a warning signal (or recording) is triggered at the beginning of a seizure. Seizure detection software has been developed. Seizure detection devices are commercially available (watch, monitors and bed sensors). They have the capability of sending automatic or manual alert messages to the person with epilepsy and to caregivers.

Seizure detection based on electroencephalography (EEG) is accurate but not practical outside of a hospital setting due to the need of EEG electrodes on the scalp. Seizure detection not based on EEG (wrist monitors, video monitors, bed sensors) may work better on certain seizure types (with convulsions) but may also generate a significant number of false alarms.

Dogs for people with epilepsy

Trained dogs may assist if a seizure occurs. Help may take the form of barking to alert caregivers, preventing wandering during/after a seizure or staying close to the person to prevent injuries. However, dog’s ability to predict seizures seems to be limited. See the Epilepsy Ontario website (epilepsyontario.org) for a more exhaustive discussion on service dogs.

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