Apple Watch could help predict epileptic seizures

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The Apple Watch is being used to help sufferers of epilepsy, by using the gadget’s many sensors to record their movement and heartbeat before, during and after a seizure. The EpiWatch app joins a range of others which use the watch to help monitor health and improve research.

Developed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland, US, the app will record the body movements and blood flow of somebody suffering an epileptic seizure. It is hoped the onset and duration of seizures will be accurately recorded with the Apple Watch; the data collected can be sent to the patient’s iPhone and to their doctor for further analysis.

The app can also be used to track a patient’s medication adherence and screen for side effects, allowing wearers to compare their condition with others in the same research study. A custom complication added to the device’s watchface means patients can log a seizure and send an alert to their family or doctor with one tap of the screen.

People who suffer from epilepsy often experience a warning sign before having a seizure, known as an aura. When someone enrolled on the study and wearing their Apple Watch feels this, they can tap the screen to activate the app, which collects data with the heart rate sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope for 10 minutes. Afterwards, the app will ask the wearer if what it sensed was a seizure, and if they took their medication that day.

Afterwards, a series of tests can be carried out on the watch to help monitor their recovery from each seizure. These include asking the patient to tap a circle on the screen to test responsiveness, and to take a memory test.

Gregory Krauss, professor of neurology at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: “Epilepsy impacts over two million people in the US… Now we have the opportunity to use technology to monitor seizures across the country and collect data in a totally new way.”

Although devices for detecting seizures have existed for years, they have been met with disapproval from wearers. The Apple Watch’s many other features and social acceptance make it a more welcome addition to their wrist. Krauss added: “It’s been a goal to have a method for detecting when a person’s first going into a seizure for years.”

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