A new study conducted by the Mayo Clinic uncovered identifiable patterns in epilepsy patients by wearing a specialized wristwatch. By wearing the monitoring wristwatch for 6 to 12 months, signals collected could allow approximately 30 minutes warning prior to a seizure occurring.
This advanced warning is revolutionary for those who suffer from the unpredictable nature of seizures. The erratic onset of seizures is limiting for epilepsy patients and the activities they may participate in. However, with an advance warning that a seizure is about to occur, patients may take medications and turn up their neurostimulator to prevent the seizure from occurring or diminish its effects.
Dr. Benjamin Brinkmann, Ph.D., an epilepsy scientist at Mayo Clinic, explains that the study demonstrates that “using a wrist-worn device shows that providing reliable seizure forecasts for people living with epilepsy is possible without directly measuring brain activity.”
The study included patients with drug-resistant epilepsy and implanted neurostimulation devices that monitor brain activities. Patients alternated wearing two of the same wristwatches in everyday activities, which provided valuable long term data to researchers. Patients would then data daily to cloud storage on a provided tablet.
Data collected from the wearable wristwatch included variables such as “electrical characteristics of the skin, body temperature, blood flow, heart rate and accelerometry data that tracks movement.” The algorithm used to predict seizures combined times series and frequency analysis. Since patients participating in the study had implanted neurostimulation devices, these devices were used to confirm when the seizures occurred. This valuable data point enabled researchers to measure the precision of forecasting seizures predicted by the wristwatch.
Dr. Brinkmann is hopeful that this research will pave the way for wearable monitoring devices for patients with epilepsy. He highlights that although the ability to forecast seizures has been attainable through implanted neurostimulation devices, many patients do not wish to opt for such an invasive method. Dr. Brinkmann states that he wishes that his research be utilized as a building block to further expand seizure forecasting in clinical practice.