Group Accurately Predicts Epilepsy Seizure In Trial
May 2, 2013

Group Accurately Predicts Epilepsy Seizure In Trial

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Researchers writing in the journal Lancet Neurology say they have been able to accurately predict epilepsy seizures in humans for the first time.

The team, led by Professor Mark Cook, Chair of Medicine at the University of Melbourne and Director of Neurology at St Vincent's Hospital, developed a device that could be implanted between the skull and brain surface to monitor long-term electrical signals in the brain. They worked to develop a second device implanted under the chest to provide a series of lights warning patients of the high, moderate, or low likelihood of having a seizure.

"Knowing when a seizure might happen could dramatically improve the quality of life and independence of people with epilepsy," said Professor Cook.

The team included 15 people between 20 and 62 years old during the study who had epilepsy. The participants had experienced between two and twelve seizures per month and had not had their seizures controlled with existing treatments.

During the first month of the study, the system was set up by the team to record EEG data, giving them the ability to construct individual algorithms of seizure prediction for each patient. The system correctly predicted seizures with a high warning 65 percent of the time, and worked to a level better than 50 percent in eleven out of 15 patients. The researchers said eight patients had their seizures accurately predicted between 56 percent and 100 percent of the time.

"One to two percent of the population have chronic epilepsy and up to 10 percent of people will have a seizure at some point in their lives, so it's very common. It's debilitating because it affects young people predominantly and it affects them often across their entire lifespan," Professor Cook said. "The problem is that people with epilepsy are, for the most part, otherwise extremely well. So their activities are limited entirely by this condition, which might affect only a few minutes of every year of their life, and yet have catastrophic consequences like falls, burns and drowning."

The team now wants to try and replicate the findings of the study in larger clinical trials. Cook said he is optimistic the technology will lead to improved management strategies for epilepsy in the future.

In January, researchers reported in the journal of the International League Against Epilepsy they discovered a genetic link between epilepsy and migraines. They said their study was the first to confirm a shared genetic susceptibility to epilepsy and migraine in a larger population of patients.