Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

Forecasting Seizures with Wearable Wristbands

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Dec 2, 2020

Smiling sporty woman in headphones using smart watch outdoors in park

One of the most troubling aspects of seizures is the fact that most of the time, patients never know when they will happen. Some patients will have “auras,” which can sometimes clue them into an approaching seizure before it happens, but this is rare. Because patients have no idea when they might have a seizure, it can hamper many aspects of their life, including their peace of mind and overall wellbeing.

However, there could be some hope in the near future according to research published in Epilepsia: Official Journal of the International League Against Epilepsy.

What Does the Research Show?

Researchers believe that better forecasting of seizures could provide patients with the early warnings they need. These warnings may have the potential to help them better adapt their daily life and routine. It could also help clinicians to provide better, more objective, and personalized treatments.

In the past, there have been studies that have shown that it’s possible to provide an assessment of seizure risk. However, the early experiments in the field were generally quite involved and complex and would require invasive setups. Despite the assessment being possible, it was not practical. Some of the devices would need to be adapted to the patient and would need to “learn” to perform properly. Naturally, this limited the application of the technology.

The goal has been to make things easier to use and noninvasive while requiring little tuning to work correctly. The devices also needed to be small enough that they were practical for various settings, not just in a clinic.

Researchers have been able to develop a wristband that will continuously record a range of physiological factors. These include:

  • Body temperature
  • Electrodermal activity
  • Blood volume pulse
  • Actigraphy

Because it’s just a simple wristband, it means that patients won’t have to worry about wires or any sort of invasive testing procedure or equipment they’ll need to carry. This helps to ensure that more people can use it and will be willing to use it. The device is small enough that it won’t gain much attention.

The Wristband and The Results

The multimodal wristband features deep learning and was tested with data from 69 patients who had epilepsy. In total, the duration of the test was 2,311 hours. During that period, there were 452 seizures among these patients. The data that they gleaned from the test was used to assess the ability of the band to forecast seizures.

The researchers used a “leave-one-subject-out cross-validation approach,” and they found that they identified a “better than chance predictability in 43% of the patients.” The data indicated that forecasting was not just “driven simply by time of day or vigilance state.”

The prediction performance was best when all of the sensor modalities were used, and it did not differ between focal and generalized seizures. However, it generally increases with the dataset size. Researchers believe that there is a chance of the performance getting better as they increase the training dataset. They feel that it will improve as more research is done with the wristband.

What Does This Mean for Patients?

Even though the wristbands aren’t available for patients currently, with more research this could change in the future. As technology improves and the risk assessments become more accurate, it seems like it should only be a matter of time before they are available. This has the potential to change the lives of people who are living with seizures. It can give them back a significant amount of hope and happiness since they’ll be able to predict and forecast their seizures. It’s certainly technology worth watching.




Topics: Epilepsy Studies