Human beings want security, and we do our best to try and stay on top of things. Unfortunately, when you’ve had a seizure, it can really shake that foundation. For a long time, a lack of data on seizures has been a source of anxiety for patients, family members, and caregivers alike. Thankfully, new research may help close the gap.

A lack of facts

When a patient is diagnosed with grand mal seizures, it can provoke a lot of anxiety for patients and families. “Grand mal seizures can be very scary,” says Dr. Jonathan Halford, Associate Professor of Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina, “There’s no way of being warned … caregivers feel afraid to leave the patient alone.”

Meanwhile, researchers and practitioners continue to be frustrated by the lack of objective data. “We do not have an easily measurable marker of the frequency and severity of seizures,” says Dr. José Cavazos, Brain Sentinel’s co-founder and a board-certified epileptologist with 25 years of experience.

Many people experience grand mal seizures at night or early in the morning. As a result, they are likely not to remember the seizure or they may not have a caregiver who can assist them during and immediately after the seizure. As a result, these events don’t get reported to their doctor.

“Caregivers feel afraid to leave the patient alone”

Closing the gap

However, research into new technology promises hope for filling in the blanks in epilepsy data. Brain Sentinel researchers and a team of doctors have been conducting a clinical trial with a new device that will help in monitoring for grand mal seizures with the capability to provide rapid alerts to caregivers.  

The non-invasive monitor sticks to the biceps and collects surface electromyography (sEMG) data from the muscles. Doctors are then able to access this sEMG data online. It is hoped that the availability of this recorded data could improve the physician’s understanding of what types of events the patient is having and how often they occur, hopefully leading to better seizure control.

“We’re given a more objective set of data on frequency and patterns,” says Dr. Cavazos, which when collected over a period of weeks or months will help medical professionals better understand their patient’s seizures. “We’re getting a really accurate view of when grand mal seizures are happening,” says Dr. Jonathan Halford, “It’s nice to have an objective account.”

The device, currently under review by the FDA and not for sale in the U.S., is also an alert system, which may calm family and professional caregivers’ fears about grand mal seizure emergencies. As a compliment to traditional treatment regimens, this new development may help deal with the frustrating unknowns in epilepsy management.