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Detection of Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures by a Wireless Wrist Accelerometer

Epilepsy Awareness Ribbon
Epilepsy Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Cynr)
In the early view online version of the journal Epilepsia, Doctors Beniczky and colleagues from the Danish Epilepsy Center and the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, the Bethel Epilepsy Center in Germany, and the Rigshospitalet University Hospital in Copenhagen, and the Institute for Regional Health Research at the University of Southern Denmark report an interesting prospective evaluation looking at a wrist detection device for seizures. The purpose of the study was to assess the clinical reliability of a wrist-worn wireless sensor for detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures. A study of 73 patients between the ages of 6 to 68 years who have a history of generalized tonic-clonic seizures was conducted to assess how well a wrist-worn device could detect generalized tonic-clonic seizures. 39 generalized tonic-clonic seizures were recorded in 20 patients. The device detected 35 seizures, or 89.7% of all seizures. Indeed, in 16 patients all seizures were detected and in 3 patients more than two-thirds of the seizures were detected. Device sensitivity was 91% with a mean detection latency, measured from the start of the seizure preceding the onset of the secondary generalized seizures of 55 seconds. The rate of false alarms was 0.2 per day. The investigators suggest that the wireless wrist accelerometer detect generalized seizures with high sensitivity and specificity. Patients with generalized seizures have an increased risk for injuries related to seizures and for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, a portable device is important to help these patients.

This study is confirmatory and represents a third version of a similar device that is undergoing study for the detection of seizures based on wrist-worn sensors that detect movement. In this study the researchers report rather remarkable results in terms of success. This is another important reminder that further work is needed in order to identify which patients are best helped by this tool. This is certainly a promising step for giving individuals a little bit more peace of mind, particularly caretakers who worry so much about seizures that they are unaware that are occurring.

by Joseph I. Sirven, MD
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