According to the Brisbane Courier Mail:
JAPANESE researchers have developed a system for smartphones to alert epileptics at least 30 seconds before a seizure.
IT’S hoped the app would help patients take precautions in the nick of time and avoid injuries.
A team from Kyoto University which developed the system is collaborating with Kumamoto University and Tokyo Medical and Dental University to get the device commercially produced by 2020, the Nikkei financial publication reported on Thursday.
The innovation uses a small sensor placed close to the collar bone or heart to detect changes in heartbeat.
Just before an epileptic attack, changes in nerve cell activity affect the autonomic nerves that control the heart.
The system detects these through the sensor and wirelessly transmits the signals to the smartphone, which uses a special application to analyse them.
To determine if the heartbeats are abnormal, the system first creates a baseline profile by taking measurements under normal conditions.
When the heartbeat deviates, the system alerts the user through a sound or a vibration.
I know people who have epilepsy, and have witnessed several epileptic seizures. When the seizure strikes people have very little warning – they generally fall uncontrollably to the ground, which creates a very real risk of head injury or other serious injury as their body strikes the pavement or other hard surfaces.
A mobile app which gives people in this unfortunate predicament a few moments warning, so they can lay down, or pull over if they are driving, would be of immeasurable benefit to epilepsy sufferers.
Android Apps and iPhone Apps which provide medical functionality are generally very popular on App Store, if they offer real value to users. For example, some heart rate monitor apps, which use the mobile phone’s microphone to pick up someone’s heart beat, have received millions of downloads. However, before tackling a medical app you should ensure you have someone with appropriate medical expertise on your team – a medical app which provided inexpert information could be worse than useless, it might endanger people’s lives.
If you are a qualified medical practitioner, and have an idea for a new medical app, please contact me.