Smartphones can play bigger role in epilepsy management, study shows

Posted Jul 2 2015 in Other treatments

A new study has shed light on the ways in which smart technology can be used to help people with epilepsy to control their seizures more effectively.

Led by the Madras Medical College Institute of Neurology in India, the research aimed to evaluate the use of modern mobile phones in the day-to-day care of epilepsy patients as a diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tool.

To assess this, the team looked at medical databases to examine the findings of currently published research in this field, as well as app developer websites to find out more about technical specifications and user friendliness.

They evaluated apps including seizure diaries, as well as medication trackers with reminders to take the next dose of medication, plus software that answered common questions, detected potential drug interactions and monitored seizures by sensing the user’s irregular motions and setting off an alarm to alert caregivers and doctors.

Analysis that appeared in the International Journal of Epilepsy came to the conclusion that careful selection and application of these apps by healthcare providers, patients and caregivers can result in better diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of epilepsy, provided that a proper understanding of their potential benefits and limitations can be assured.

Lakshmi Narasimhan Ranganathan of the Madras Medical College Institute of Neurology said: “Almost all smartphones have a built-in GPS. They have motion detectors and/or accelerometers. All of those gadgets, if properly integrated into a programme, support epilepsy management.”

It was also pointed out that future advances could increase the utility of smartphones further, such as through the development of a headset that sends electroencephalography signals directly to a smartphone, allowing continuous monitoring to detect the spikes in activity that typically precedes seizures.

Additionally, special sensors integrated into smartphones might allow continuous drug monitoring too, meaning patients can take antiepileptic drugs only when a seizure is imminent, thus avoiding the side effects associated with continuous usage.

Posted by Anne Brown

Link to scientific abstract: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213632015000044

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