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13 May 2016

Study explores home video as diagnostic tool for epilepsy

A study has compared the quality of information in home videos of people having epileptic seizures with descriptions of the seizures from carers.

Scientists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi collected home videos from 312 patients and analysed 624 seizures.  Researchers analysed the home videos of seizures as well as descriptions from carers, and compared them against findings from video electroencephalography (VEEG).

Home video better for diagnosing epilepsy type

The study found that researchers were better able to identify epilepsy type using information from the home videos than by using medical history descriptions.

Published in Epilepsy Research, the study concludes that home videos are more reliable in picking up signs and classifying epilepsy type than history provided by caregivers of people with epilepsy. It also says that home videos are “a complementary tool in a developing country like India.”

Professor Mattias Koepp explains

Epilepsy Society’s Professor Mattias Koepp explains: “There are over 40 different types of seizures with many different visual characteristics. Being able to observe a person’s behaviour before, during and after an ‘event’ can help us to determine whether it is likely
to be a seizure, the type of seizure, and give important clues as to where in the brain it is likely to have been generated. Being aware of a person’s movements, any noises they may make and any changes to breathing patterns and skin tone can help to build-up a more comprehensive picture of the seizure.”

Neurologists use CCTV footage

He adds: “Eye-witness evidence is so crucial that neurologists have even been known to search through CCTV footage to try and find out exactly what the seizure looked like.”

Tips for filming seizures

Photographer Tom Bradley spent several months in Sierra Leone, documenting epilepsy through photography and film for Medical Assistance Sierra Leone.  He offers some advice on filming seizures with a mobile phone:


  • If someone has a seizure and you’re the only person there, then of course their safety and well-being takes priority. Give them whatever help they need first. Hopefully you won’t be the only person present. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or if you are concerned, call an ambulance.
  • If you are free to use the camera, start videoing straight away. It is important to video as much of the seizure as possible, from start to finish. You never know what information may be useful to 
an epilepsy expert.
  • Try and get the whole person inside the frame of the camera, to capture whether there is posturing or jerking of arms or legs, but don’t stand too far back. If the person’s eyes are open or closed, or moving, you should try to capture this too.
  • You might be able to record sounds the person makes such as heavy breathing. Also, ask questions, and record how, whether and when the person starts to respond.
  • Try and record the seizure from
a couple of angles. Though it may feel voyeuristic, these videos are providing useful information.
  • If you believe there is something that triggered the seizure, try and film that too. This should be done after the seizure has finished and the person is no longer in the room.


Download our mobile phone and seizure recording guide 


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