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This article was published in May 2013. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

New device claims to be able to predict seizures

1 May 2013

brainA research study says that seizures can be predicted with a new device. The device is put in the brain, and is able to give a warning that a seizure is coming. The study was only small, but could prove to be an exciting development for people with epilepsy.

The device, once inside the brain, predicted seizures in some adults who have epilepsy that can’t be controlled by anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). “Knowing when a seizure might happen could dramatically improve the quality of life and independence of people with epilepsy,” said lead author Mark Cook from the University of Melbourne in Australia.

The device has been designed to detect abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It is put between the skull and the brain’s surface. It looks at electrical activity in the brain all the time. This information is converted to data. It is then sent without wires to a device that can be held in the hand. This device makes a decision about how likely it is that a seizure is coming. It shows either a red light for high risk; a white light for moderate risk; or a blue light for low risk.

The study included 15 people. They were aged between 20 and 62. They usually had between two and 12 seizures a month. Their seizures could not be controlled with AEDs.

Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive at Epilepsy Action, said: “This research is in its early stages and only uses a very small sample size, but it could prove to be an exciting development for some people with epilepsy.

“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.

“Predicting seizures may help us to understand more about the ways seizures can be managed and ultimately, prevented. More research is needed to establish if this device could be a useful tool to predict seizures in practice, particularly given the small sample size and the inconsistencies in the data collected.”

The study is published in The Lancet Neurology.

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