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New technology might predict seizures, stress

Although epilepsy treatments have come a long way, the condition may still prevent individuals in New Jersey and across the country from working in certain environments. In severe cases, patients may not be able to work at any job, relegating them to a disability status and dependence on forms of assistance such as Social Security disability insurance. However, new technology is bringing such individuals one step closer to complete manageability.

The technology gathers physiological data from patients wearing a device that looks somewhat like a bracelet. The data is based entirely on information contained in the surface of a patient’s skin. According to researchers, changes in a person’s skin surface vary based on a person’s activities. As a result, skin sensors in the bracelet device can detect influences such as stress, sleep, or possibly even the onset of an epileptic seizure.

The data, which is continuously collected and then transmitted via Bluetooth to a computer for processing, may allow treatments to be more preventive in the future. That, in turn, could translate into work applications for patients suffering from seizure disorders.

However, the applications may have widespread utility to a number of different physical or mental disabilities. For example, it can detect stress, which may alert workers suffering from major depression to the seriousness of their condition. As with many other impairments, early detection and treatment of depression is a key factor in prognosis and recovery outcomes.

Researchers even believe the technology may improve communication with autistic individuals. Especially in the case of children who have an autism spectrum disorder, the insight gained from understanding inner physiology may result in better treatments and external communication.

Source: innovationtrail.org, “Wearable tech full of potential for health care applications,” Kate O’Connell, April 5, 2013

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