Approximately 2 million people including 400,000 children in the U.S are being treated for epilepsy and one-third continue to have seizures despite treatment. Currently, there are no reliable home-based monitoring devices available in the U.S to assist caregivers. To address this important caregiver need, RTI International is developing a prototype mobile seizure alert system to help epilepsy patients and their families cope with seizures.
The RTI alert device will contain an array of noninvasive physiological sensors to measure heart rate, respiration, and body orientation. The detection of seizures is based on physiological effects due to elevated activity of the autonomic nervous system during seizures. RTI earlier had developed a proof-of-concept seizure detection algorithm and validated it in a clinical study.
NIH has awarded RTI researchers a $1.6 million grant to accelerate the development of this device concept in clinical settings. This funding will enable the transition of the proof-of-concept demonstration into a fully functional prototype device.
RTI will work with the Division of Epilepsy, Neurophysiology, and Critical Care Neurology at Children’s National Medical Center to collect additional data from children admitted to the epilepsy monitoring unit. The prototype device will be tested and caregivers will be identified to test the prototype in the home setting.
According to Barbara Kroner, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at RTI and Co-Principal Investigator of the project and also the mother of a child with uncontrolled seizures, “This device has the potential to decrease the incidence of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy often an unwitnessed nocturnal event related to a seizure. In these cases, the monitoring device with cardiac and respiratory sensors could prove to be lifesaving.”