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28 November 2014

A wristband to track seizures

Professor Ley Sander, Epilepsy Society's medical director, says he is cautiously optimistic about  a new wristband called Embrace which claims to make it easier for people with epilepsy to detect seizures and let others know when they need help.

He said: 'I think this product needs proper validation and I have concerns about its ability to detect and track all the different  types of seizures experienced by people with epilepsy. However, it could prove helpful  to people who know that stress is one of their seizure triggers.'

American company Empatica designed the wristband for people with epilepsy to detect seizures and alert family members when it senses that a seizure is happening. Empatica hopes the product costing $199 will be available next year.

Tracking stress levels

Empatica chief scientist Rosalind Picard says the idea behind Embrace emerged back in 2008, when she was  carrying out research that involved using a wristband to track stress levels in autistic children by measuring their skin conductance— skin tends to become a better conductor of electricity when stress levels rise.

The device will include apps to spot seizures and warn people when their stress level has risen past a certain set point. If Empatica’s algorithm detects a seizure, the band will vibrate, giving the user a chance to indicate that there’s been a false alarm. If the user doesn’t respond, it will connect with his or her smartphone to alert a list of people, such as a doctor and family members.

The device has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.