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16 March 2016

New room design to help epilepsy patients get answers sooner

A group of US art and design students are redesigning a hospital's Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, or EMU to provoke seizures in a safe environment. 

Patients are admitted to the unit in Michigan for monitoring to see what type of seizures they have to enable doctors to decide on a suitable treatment plan. However, for safety reasons the epilepsy patients are usually confined to their bed during their stay, which removes most of the stress and seizure triggers such as movement and environmental factors. 

The students, from Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan are designing the room for Spectrum Health Innovations to help induce seizures in patients undergoing epilepsy monitoring.

Spectrum Health Neurologist and Epileptologist Dr. Ayman Haykal explained: “If we change how the room is designed, if we make sure the room is safe and allow the patient to move around and do more stuff then than they do now then we might be more successful in provoking seizures.”

In response, a group of art and design students are working on a plan for a hospital room without sharp edges, cushioned flooring and other safety features, allowing for movement and natural light.

“One of the things we came up with was a bed that doubles as a couch,” Justin Beitzel, a KCAD Industrial Design student said. “They could use it during the day to feel comfortable and safe in their environment, but if they have an episode they can lay down and it raises up.”

Epilepsy Society's Sir William Gowers Centre has 6 video telemetry rooms where patients are frequently admitted to observe brain changes.  Charge Nurse Anthony Linklater cautiously expressed his interest in the design, saying: "My feeling is that the room tweaks will not be the answer. In fact, the picture I saw seemed to look less clinical, creating what looked like a nice relaxing pad! However, if the room tweaks do increase the occurrence of seizures, we will be looking to see if there are changes we can make to our own video telemetry rooms at Chalfont."