A new epilepsy wristwatch monitoring device has been created that could forecast seizures allowing people with untreated epilepsy to alter activities, take a fast-acting medication or turn up their neurostimulator to prevent a seizure or minimise its effects.

In the study in Scientific Reports, patients with drug-resistant epilepsy and an implanted neurostimulation device that monitors electrical brain activity were given two wrist-worn recording devices and a tablet computer to upload data daily to cloud storage.

 

Patients were instructed to wear one wristband while the other charged. They switched devices at a set time each day. They used the devices while participating in their normal activities, providing unique long-term data for the study.

Information collected from the wearable device included electrical characteristics of the skin, body temperature, blood flow, heart rate and accelerometry data that tracks movement. Data were analysed with a deep learning neural network approach to artificial intelligence, using an algorithm for time series and frequency analysis. 

As the research participants already had an implanted deep brain stimulation device to treat their epilepsy, those neurostimulation devices were used to confirm seizures, allowing the team to measure the accuracy of forecasting by the wrist-worn devices.

Seizure forecasting help patients living with epilepsy adjust their plans

Benjamin Brinkmann, an epilepsy scientist at Mayo Clinic and the senior author, said: "Just as a reliable weather forecast helps people plan their activities, so, too, could seizure forecasting help patients living with epilepsy adjust their plans if they knew a seizure was imminent.

"This study using a wrist-worn device shows that providing reliable seizure forecasts for people living with epilepsy is possible without directly measuring brain activity. We hope this research with wearable devices paves the way toward integrating seizure forecasting into clinical practice in the future."

This study is part of the Epilepsy Foundation of America's Epilepsy Innovation Institute, and the My Seizure Gauge project, which is an international collaboration aimed at using wearable devices for seizure detection and forecasting in epilepsy. Additional support was provided by the Mayo Clinic Neurology Artificial Intelligence Program.