HomeTechEpilepsy patients to wear new impant that could improve care

Epilepsy patients to wear new impant that could improve care

An implantable seizure recorder may help people with epilepsy in the future (Credit: iStockphoto)

Researchers have been awarded £1.8 million to study how a long-term implantable seizure recorder could help people with epilepsy.

The clinical trial, led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, will establish whether the small implant, which records brain activity, can improve care and treatment for people whose epilepsy cannot currently be controlled by drugs.

The monitor may be able to predict patterns in epileptic seizures, recording the data for medics to look at remotely over a period of up to 15 months.

It removes the need for people to keep a diary of their seizures, works while they are asleep, and allows them to go about their daily lives.

The Real World Testing and Cost-effectiveness Analysis of Subcutaneous EEG (Real-Ase) trial is recruiting 33 patients, backed by a grant from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Implanting the miniaturised electroencephalogram (EEG) device just under the scalp takes around 20 minutes under local anaesthetic.

Lead investigator Professor Mark Richardson, from King’s, said: ‘This technology is a game-changer for epilepsy therapy as it enables us to detect and count a person’s seizures with accuracy.

‘Clinicians treating people with epilepsy frequently make changes to therapy in the hope of improving the lives of the third of people whose seizures have not yet responded to treatment.

‘We don’t know whether a change in treatment has been helpful without a very accurate count of seizures.

‘Unfortunately, seizure diaries are often not accurate enough to judge whether treatment has led to any improvement.

‘What the use of ultra long-term EEG opens up, is the possibility, in future, of very accurately judging the effect of a change in treatment.

‘We also anticipate that ultra long-term EEG will allow us to quickly identify that someone’s epilepsy is deteriorating so that we can immediately step up their care.

‘This has the potential to be truly revolutionary for people living with a difficult illness.’

Dr Jonas Duun-Henriksen, director of epilepsy science at Danish company UNEEG medical, which developed the implant, said: ‘Our unique device is the first technology to reach the market allowing ultra long-term EEG recording.

‘It speaks directly to the NHS goals of improving patient outcomes via patient-friendly, at-home, data collection and evidence-based, individualised, patient-focused medicine.’

Alison Fuller, director of health improvement and influencing at Epilepsy Action, said: ‘This is a really promising and exciting departure from traditional seizure monitoring methods towards helping people with epilepsy to better understand, and therefore manage, their seizures.

‘Seizure diaries only offer a snapshot of true activity, while continuous monitoring could identify more subtle patterns and provide a much more accurate picture of what is happening.

‘This new technology also has the advantage of overcoming some of the limitations or disruption people experience with more conventional EEGs.

‘These often require extended hospital stays or the need for sleep deprivation, which can have a knock-on negative impact on seizures.

‘Having better evidence and knowledge will undoubtedly improve outcomes in safety and quality of care, which could ultimately help to reduce epilepsy-related deaths.

‘Epilepsy Action is proud to be supporting the study and we look forward to watching how it changes the landscape in current treatment methods for people with epilepsy.’

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