Early-Warning for Seizures Could Be a Game-Changer for Epilepsy Patients

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A research team at USC Viterbi School of Engineering and Keck Medicine of USC is tackling this dangerous problem with a powerful new seizure predicting mathematical model that will give epilepsy patients an accurate warning five minutes to one hour before they are likely to experience a seizure, offering enhanced freedom for the patient and cutting the need for medical intervention.

Liu and his team have already been working with epilepsy patients with implantable devices, which are able to offer ongoing real-time monitoring of the brain’s electrical signals in the same way that an electroencephalogram (EEG) uses external electrodes to measure signals. The new mathematical model can take this data and learn each patient’s unique brain signals, looking out for precursors, or patterns of brain activity that show a “pre-ictal” state, in which a patient is at risk of seizure onset.

Song said the new model is able to accurately predict whether a seizure may happen within one hour, allowing the patient to take the necessary intervention.

“For example, it could be as simple as just alerting the patient their seizure is coming the next hour, so they shouldn’t drive their car right now, or they should take their medicine, or they should go and sit down” Song said. “Or ideally in future we can detect seizure signals and then send electrical stimulation through an implantable device to the brain to prevent the seizure from happening.”

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