Wearable Device For Preventing SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death In Epilepsy)

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by the occurrence of seizures. Epilepsy can often prevent patients from living a normal life since it’s nearly impossible to predict when a seizure will occur. The unpredictability of the seizures makes performing tasks such as driving extremely dangerous. One of the challenges in treating epilepsy is the condition is still not very well understood.

Neurava, a recent startup company from Purdue University, aims to change this fact. Neurava is developing a neck wearable that “records key biological signals related to epilepsy.” None of the press releases we’ve found so far elaborate on what those biological signals are. Though we have some guesses of our own, we’ll leave it to the Hackaday community to speculate for the time being. One of the major hurdles in using biological signals to treat conditions like epilepsy both lies in the accuracy of the measurement itself in addition to how well the measurement correlates to the underlying condition. From the looks of it, Neurava has been working on this technology for a long time and are certainly more aware of these challenges than we are.

Neurava’s wearable includes a few other functionalities we’ve come to expect in this era of smart devices such as wireless data transmission to both the physician and patient, physician dashboard to monitor the patient’s progress over extended periods of time, and in-time alerts in the event a seizure is detected.

Neurava appears to have garnered a bit of publicity in these last few months and are currently securing seed money to help advance their technology. We’ll check in every so often to see how they’re doing.

10 thoughts on “Wearable Device For Preventing SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death In Epilepsy)

  1. So, is it mainly for use for patients in hospital?
    I mean, notifying the physician, would be much more effective if the physician (or crash cart team) was near enough to react to an alert.

    I wonder how much of their studies in identifying a possible epileptic event used dogs trained in detecting seizures.

    1. Hi there,

      Good question. My guess is it’s mainly for use during normal day-to-day activities, so they can help patients live a more normal life despite the seizures. The notifications could go to both physicians and/or loved ones/caregivers. This way, whoever is around can respond accordingly.

      I’m not familiar with dogs trained in detecting seizures. Feel free to reach out to the team members. There’s a “Contact Us” option on their website.

    2. The only thing I can guess is this is meant to detect warning signs before the person goes into a seizure? Kind of like how we can detect if someone is about to go into cardiac arrest beore they actually do. In a hospital these seconds could absolutely save a life with how damaging seizures are. That said if I’m driving down the highway and my phone says, in 2 seconds you will have a seizure, it might as well tell me “good luck”.

    3. #1 source of injury with epileptics and sudden loss of consciousness is falling and the subsequent concussion. Even a few seconds of warning can enable one to find a place to sit or lie down before it happens.

  2. I have a child with uncontrolled epilepsy, and this looks like snake oil to me. “Key biomarkers” that could be measured with a device around the neck might include breathing, maybe pulse, doubtful on oxygen level, maybe sudden jerking with a motion sensor. Even when my child has been hooked up in the electronic monitoring unit of a hospital, they can’t predict his next seizure. Maybe – MAYBE – this could alert you that seizures are happening, but you can get far simpler cameras to do that for you already (and we use one).

    1. I’m in the same boat with my child. Really would like this to turn out to be something, but the mechanisms behind SUDEP are so poorly understood I struggle to see how any unspecified “biological signals” could be monitored that would be useful. This would be major news in medical journals, and I’ve seen nothing new in this space recently.

      1. If your child is still a child may I recommend trying to put them on a ketogenic diet (bear with me). The origonal purpose of the diet was a discovery that children suffering epilepsy have signifigantly less if not 0 seizures when on a keto diet (strangely it doesn’t work on adults). The reason for why is still not understood but there are multiple medical studies that have validated the results. It’s not guranteed to work but if your still working to find the right drug cocktail that keeps the symptoms down like my Mom struggled with for decades I think it’s probably worth a try.

        1. Keto isn’t a realistic option for us unfortunately, far too difficult to get her to even eat, let alone a strict diet to follow. The future holds some promising treatments though – repurposed weight loss drugs (fenflurmine) and even potential genetic treatments for the root cause of her seizures (and likely SUDEP vector). It’d be nice if tech like the above offers something new, but the seem a bit evasive about what they’re doing.

  3. As much as I would love to have a warning before one of my seizures (if that is what they are detecting with this device), I’m not certain that I would be willing to wear that on my neck, especially not 24/7/365. It appears uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing, though I’m embarrassing looking enough without it.
    That being said, my own epilepsy is fairly well controlled for the time being. For someone who isn’t as fortunate, this could potentially be a very good thing. If my neurologist told me to wear it I would, but for the time being I’m glad that I don’t seem to need it.

    I don’t know much about Sudep, but I know that generalized seizures can and usually do disrupt some of the low-level processes that normally happen automatically. For example, I have briefly stopped breathing during seizures. I can see where this could possibly be lethal if the brain doesn’t reboot quickly enough to start up breathing again before it becomes too late.

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