“When you have epilepsy you feel useless. You crave independence”.
Epilepsy can prevent people from enjoying the things the rest of us take for granted – swimming, driving, even holding down a job, as seizures can strike at any time.
Epilepsy is one of the most common serious neurological diseases after stroke. More than 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy and about three percent of Australians will suffer a seizure at some point in their life.
Epileptic seizures are unpredictable and can vary from brief ‘absences’ to convulsions and loss of consciousness. Epilepsy is diagnosed by observing the electrical activity of the brain by electroencephalography (EEG). However, this is not always a straightforward process, especially since seizures are unpredictable. Conventional EEG recordings are impractical for more than a day or two, may not capture an event, and repeat visits or in-hospital stays are expensive.
This can leave patients in a state of limbo: both patients and clinicians alike need a diagnostic system that can monitor brain activity over long periods of time.
To help doctors better diagnose patients, Bionics Institute researchers and neurologist Professor Mark Cook have developed a small implantable device that can monitor seizures outside the clinic and allow patients to go about their daily lives.