Researchers at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee are testing several products on the market that claim to reliably detect a child’s seizure without frequent false alarms.
Many parents of children with epilepsy live in fear because seizures can strike at any time, increasing the risk of injury or death. Some parents are forced to constantly supervise their children, keeping them home from school or sleeping with them. Researchers are testing the bed alarms that are currently on the market to determine which products operate as promised and which might bring the most relief to parents.
Le Bonheur's Neuroscience Institute is the only center in the United States to review all three of the seizure alarms currently available for home use.
"The ideal goal is for the child's seizures to be controlled with treatment,” James Wheless , MD, co-director of the Neuroscience Institute at Le Bonheur. “For the child or adolescent in whom this may not be possible, the next best thing is the parent knowing when they have a seizure, so they can respond to them. These devices allow the family to do this - and for the parents to have some piece of mind. This is critical, because a poorly rested parent is not going to take good care of their child with a medical illness."
Patients of the Le Bonheur's Epilepsy Monitoring Unit are participating in three studies, two of which have been published.
The first study called the "Prospective Study of 2 Bed Alarms for Detection of Nocturnal Seizures" was published in the “Journal of Child Neurology” in October 2012. Two models of MedPage bed alarms were studied. The researchers, led by Stephen Fulton , MD, found that these products were inadequate in detecting nocturnal seizures.
The second study called the "Prospective Study of the Emfit Movement Monitor" has been accepted for publication. The research showed that the Emfit movement monitor performed better than the MedPage bed alarms. The Emfit detected 84 percent of nocturnal tonic-clonic seizures. The team, led by Kate Van Poppel , MD, added that enhancements could be made to the product that could detect respiration or heart rate, improving the product’s ability to detect seizures.
The third study that is now underway involves the SmartWatch, which uses a watch-like device to detect excessive and repetitive movement and sends a text to a family member's phone.