For people with epilepsy, having a caretaker or nurse ready to give aid during a severe seizure attack can mean the difference between life and death. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, known as SUDEP, lends the lives of individuals with epilepsy an unsettling fragility. The danger of having a seizure in the night, which due to choking in a helpless position or injury from falling out of bed, leads nighttime seizures to constitute the highest level of fatalities in individuals with the condition. The warning system previously used to alert carers of individuals with epilepsy to a severe seizure, which is a device that senses the erratic movements associated with seizures, is accurate only in 21% of cases. Individuals with severe cases of epilepsy and those with an intellectual disability comorbidity with the seizure disorder have a rate of fatality due to nighttime seizures of up to 21%; therefore, a more reliable source of warning is long overdue.
In recent months, Nightwatch has entered the scene. Nightwatch is a technological armband designed by consortium researchers to sense the presence of a seizure. The device senses two symptoms related to seizures: a rapid heartbeat that exceeds the average rate and jerking movements of the limbs and body. The bracelet then sends a wireless message to caretakers or nurses to warn them of the attack so that they can provide aid to the patient. In a study performed on the device, the Nightwatch was shown to have an 85% accuracy in sensing all severe attacks and 96% accuracy for the most severe and therefore dangerous attacks. These results were published in the academic journal Neurology and, according to Prof. Dr. Johan Arands, the study shows that the device is functional and prepared for use. Nightwatch may be the warning device so badly needed for thousands of unnecessary deaths to be prevented.
The Nightwatch was developed in the Netherlands by the following research centers: Kempenhaeghe epilepsy centre, Eindhoven University of Technology, the Foundation for Epilepsy Institutions in the Netherlands (SEIN), UMC Utrecht, the Epilepsy Fund, patient representatives and LivAssured. The brainchild of Dr. Johan Arands and some research partners, the Nightwatch has been carefully designed during a time period of over twenty years. Based on exciting statistics found in the recent study and supervision by bright intellectual minds, the Nightwatch seems to be the answer to the crisis of deaths in epilepsy patients and a device capable of saving thousands of lives.