Epilepsy is a devastating illness that can dramatically change a person’s life. This neurological disorder is caused by disrupted nerve cell activity which leads to seizures. For some people, the extent of the disruption is considerable and seizures are frequent and severe. Others may only suffer a seizure infrequently; but because of the unpredictability of seizures, a person may suffer one while doing things like operating heavy machinery or swimming.
Epileptics have to avoid a number of activities that could trigger a seizure or because of what could happen if they do have a seizure. This might even include holding down a job. However, researchers are working to develop technology that analyzes seizures which could dramatically improve the lives of epilepsy sufferers.
Most recently, for example, Johns Hopkins University has been developing an app for the newly-released Apple Watch. The app works by measuring and monitoring heart rate, limb movement and blood flow in a person who is wearing the watch once the app is activated.
The app is unique in that it was developed specifically with the Apple Watch in mind because of how much data can be collected when someone is wearing the watch. Unlike phones or other devices, the Apple Watch can be worn and stay in the same position, directly on a person’s wrist.
Currently, the app can administer responsiveness tests and remind wearers to take medication on top of collecting valuable data during a seizure. Researchers say they hope to develop additional features like notifying a person’s loved ones in the event of a seizure and tracking epileptic episodes which could help people identify patterns that would make it easier to manage symptoms.
While the app is still in its early stages, many people are excited by the fact that such tools are coming on the market. These technological advancements and resources have the potential to significantly improve the lives of people with certain conditions. With these types of tools and data-gathering capabilities, it may be possible for people who suffer from disabling mental disorders to participate in activities they might not have been able to otherwise.
Source: The Washington Post, “The Apple Watch could soon predict seizures, thanks to Johns Hopkins University,” Hayley Tsukayama, Oct. 15, 2015