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Brain implant ‘predicts’ epilepsy seizures

A brain implant may be able to predict epilepsy seizures by picking up the early warning signs, a small study suggests.Epilepsy Education EpilepsyU

The device uses the brain’s electrical activity to tell patients if their risk of a seizure is high, moderate or low.

The study on 15 people, published in the Lancet Neurology, showed the device worked in some patients.

The charity Epilepsy Action cautioned that it was still early days, but said it could be an “exciting development”.

Epilepsy is thought to affect 50 million people worldwide. Abnormal activity in part of the brain causes seizures involving involuntary shaking.

Independence impact

Signals were collected from the surface of the brain and sent down wires to another implant in the chest. This beamed the data to a hand-held device which worked out the odds of a seizure.

The trial was run at three hospitals in Australia and was funded by the manufacturers NeuroVista.

If a person is able to be alerted when they are about to have a seizure, this could help them to take steps to make sure they are safe during the seizure” – Simon Wigglesworth Epilepsy Action

The results were mixed. For the first four months the brain was monitored so the system could learn a patient’s brainwaves before a seizure.

Only eight patients then progressed to the stage where the device was fully activated and they were constantly informed of their chance of a seizure. It was between 56% and 100% effective in those patients.

Prof Mark Cook, from the University of Melbourne, said if the technology could be proven if could help remove the unpredictable nature of epilepsy.

He told the BBC: “Being able to predict the events with many minutes or hours lead time could have significant impact on independence.

“This could change the way the illness is treated. For instance, our current strategy of giving medications continuously because of the unpredictable occurrence of events could alter the types of medications being developed.

“Short-acting therapies may prove to be effective without subjecting patients to the long-term problems that currently available therapies may cause.”

‘Useful tool’

Commenting on the findings, Christian Elger and Florian Mormann, from the University of Bonn medical centre, described the results as “a major milestone… showing for the first time, to our knowledge that prospective seizure prediction is possible”.

They added: “Whether this performance is also sufficient for clinical applications is unclear, this will depend on how well patients tolerate false alarms or missed seizures.”

Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said more research was needed, particularly given the “small sample size and the inconsistencies in the data collected”.

“If a person is able to be alerted when they are about to have a seizure, this could help them to take steps to make sure they are safe during the seizure. The device could also be a useful tool for carers of people with epilepsy,” he said.

“Predicting seizures may help us to understand more about the ways seizures can be managed and ultimately prevented.”

Source/Read More – BBC Health: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22342448

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12 Comments

  1. yea

    Reply
  2. I wouldn’t trust it. Sounds like another vns. Good for doctors and surgeons and that’s about it.

    Reply
    • i agree with u dennis i have the vns and it does sound like something similiar to it

  3. My Son and I suffer from Seizures…I have a Dog (Kainoa) who has an awareness before I do, that I am about to have a Seizure…My son is a servere epileptic…For me, I would rather have, my dog to help me than an Implant that could cause more damage to the Brain (My opinion Only)

    Reply
  4. Opinons are always welcome. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Sign me up! I’m tired of the living my life around seizures and being a medicinal guinea pig.

    Reply
  6. The problem I see is what do you do then, to keep the seizure from happening?

    Reply
    • Profile photo of EpilepsyUni

      Hopefully this system will train users to be aware of triggers and at least provide an early warning system, so that a plan that is established can be put into effect!

  7. Good question Teresa!

    Reply
  8. I would like to have a dog rather than something poked in my head and chest but I appreciate anyone trying to get me to a safe place before a seizure happens. I have gotten to where I can’t be alone anymore (without worrying). Hacking out my brain would freak me out too! This is better than that.

    Reply
  9. My comment is awaiting moderation? Are you afraid of what someone has to say who really has epilepsy, or just that slow?

    Reply
    • Profile photo of EpilepsyUni

      No, Mary, we are not afraid of what someone with Epilepsy has to say, and we are not slow either. We work VERY, VERY hard to maintain this community. The comment moderation is only for 1st time commenters, to prevent spammers from posting, not humans with real opinions. You would not believe how often we are attacked by spam, it is just part of running a successful website…

      We apologize for the delay in your comment appearing and thank you for commenting.

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