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18 May 2020

Forecasting seizures to help improve control and treatment of epilepsy

A study at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London is evaluating the use of a small device placed under the skin to predict the timing and pattern of epileptic seizures as a way to help patients feel more in control of their condition.

Forecasting seizures to help improve control and treatment of epilepsy
Source: UNEEG medical

In this video the study lead, Professor Mark Richardson, and study investigator, Pedro Viana, explain the potential of this project, and research participant, Nicola Twallin, shows the device in use and talks about the importance of having more information on when and how often her seizures occur.

The video has been launched to mark National Epilepsy Awareness Week, 18 -24 May 2020.

Epilepsy is a common condition, affecting about 1% of the world population, and 600,000 people in the UK. Although epilepsy is generally treatable, about 30% of patients continue to have seizures despite being on medication, increasing the risk of harm caused by uncontrolled seizures.

For most people with epilepsy, seizures are entirely unpredictable, and the fear of not knowing when a seizure might happen can be one of the most disabling aspects of living with this condition.

Being able to forecast seizures could give people with epilepsy more control over their condition and lessen fear around having an unpredicted seizure. The insight provided could also allow those with epilepsy to take steps to protect themselves from harm caused by seizures. For clinicians, having a system to forecast seizures could change the management of their patients, by adapting targeted treatments to the degree of impending seizure risk.

Funded by the Epilepsy Foundation, the research is part of the My Seizure Gauge Programme, a large international collaboration aiming to understand which type of technology and devices can be used in daily life to forecast seizures in people with epilepsy.

The study uses a newly developed medical device, the UNEEG SubQ® to measure EEG, or electroencephalography, from electrodes placed easily under the skin. This provides access to a person’s brainwaves and allows them to be recorded every day over long periods of time, giving continuous insight into the state of the brain including before, during and after a seizure.

Conducted at King’s College Hospital, the procedure to insert the UNEEG SubQ® system beneath the skin uses only a brief local anaesthetic, and the device remains invisible to others. To record the data, a wire is then placed over the skin above the device and connected to a recorder the size of a credit card, which is easily attached to the patient’s clothing.

The study is led by Professor Mark Richardson, while Dr Pedro Viana is in charge of collecting and analysing the data.

Alongside the EEG data, the research is also collecting other biological signals, such as heart rate and movement, through wrist-worn sensors, with the aim of better informing a seizure predictor, specific for each patient. This data will also help researchers better understand the influence of other factors on seizure occurrence, such as sleep quality or stress.

For more information, or to take part in the study please contact Dr Pedro Viana at the IoPPN.

Contact: Franca Davenport, Interim Senior Press Officer, IoPPN: / +44 7718 697176