Johns Hopkins researchers haven’t wasted a moment when it comes to developing new technology to track epileptic seizures: EpiWatch is the first app created for Apple Watch that uses Apple’s open-source software called ResearchKit. The invention will ultimately help people with epilepsy detect the most common types of seizures and notify help when appropriate.
For now, the app works like this: Patients who experience warning symptoms before a seizure can tap the EpiWatch icon. The app relies on the accelerometer and heart rate monitor in Apple Watch to record physiological changes and prompts users to play a memory game to gauge patient responsiveness during the seizure. The software works with patients who experience auras before having a seizure, but it can also be activated by caregivers.
EpiWatch’s inventors, neurologists Nathan Crone and Gregory Krauss, say the app can help patients track seizures as well as medication use. Users are asked daily whether they’ve taken their medication and had a seizure; that information is then used in a journal that can help patients understand their illness and complications, such as drug side effects.
“We want to be at the forefront of this revolution in patients gaining control of their conditions through mobile devices,” says Crone.
Crone and Krauss have big plans for EpiWatch—they’ve started a study with the data collected by their EpiWatch users to better understand epilepsy. Within one to two years, they hope to develop an app that detects most seizures and alerts emergency services or caregivers—something that could help people with epilepsy live more independently.
EpiWatch took about three months to develop, with help from the Johns Hopkins Technology Innovation Center. A provisional patent has been submitted.
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