A new high tech wristband, developed by scientists from the Netherlands, detects 85 percent of all severe night epilepsy attacks. That is a much better score than any other technology currently available. The researchers involved think that this bracelet, called Nightwatch, can reduce the world number of unexpected night deaths in patients with epilepsy. They posted the results of a prospective trial in the scientific journal Neurology.
SUDEP, sudden and sudden death in epilepsy, is one of the leading causes of mortality in patients with epilepsy. People with intellectual disabilities and severe-therapy resistant epilepsy may have a life-threatening risk of 20% of dying from epilepsy. Although there are several techniques to control the patients at night, many attacks are still being lost.
Consequently, consortium researchers have developed a bracelet that recognizes two essential characteristics of severe attacks: an abnormally fast heartbeat and rhythmic movements. In these cases, the bracelet will send a wireless alert to caregivers or nurses.
The research team has prospectively tested the bracelet, known as Nightwatch, in 28 patients with epilepsy with intellectual disability in an average of 65 nights per patient. The bracelet was restricted to sounding an alarm in case of severe suffering. Patients were also filmed to verify if there were false alarms or attacks that Nightwatch could lose. This comparison shows that the bracelet detected 85 percent of all serious attacks and 96 percent of the most serious (tonic-clonic seizures), which is a particularly high score.
For the sake of comparison, the current detection standard has been tested, a bed sensor that reacts to vibrations due to rhythmic stereotypes. This only marked 21% of serious attacks. On average, the bed sensor remained unduly silent every 4 nights per patient. The Nightwatch, on the other hand, only lost a serious attack per patient every 25 nights on average. In addition, patients did not experience much discomfort from the wrist strap and the care was also positive about the use of the strap.
These results show that the bracelet works well, says neurologist and researcher Prof. Dr. Johan Arends. The Nightwatch can now be widely used among adults, both in institutions and at home. Arends expects this to reduce the number of SUDEP cases by two thirds, although this also depends on the speed and adequacy of care providers or informal caregivers that respond to alerts. If applied globally, it can save thousands of lives.
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