According to the World Health Organisation, epilepsy is the most common brain disorder worldwide. It is estimated nearly 10 per cent of the population will have a seizure at some time during their life; one third of them will have recurrent seizures and one per cent of those people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Around half a million Australians have epilepsy.
Life with epilepsy is difficult and can be very frightening. Seizures are unpredictable and can vary from brief ‘absences’ to convulsions and loss of consciousness.
The problem of diagnosing the cause of intermittent blackouts remains unsolved and leaves patients in a state of limbo, often limiting their activities and social interactions. To rule out or confirm epilepsy as the cause, standard EEG recordings are the best diagnostic tool but these are impractical over long periods and may not capture an event. 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 have developed an implantable device that is placed under the scalp in a simple surgical procedure. The device stays in place and detects seizures as they occur, monitoring and recording them accurately over a long period of time. This “real time” data can be accessed by the patient’s doctor for analysis, and will help tailor medications to suit the individual requirements of patients.