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New horizons in ambulatory electroencephalography

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1 Author(s)
E. Waterhouse ; Dept. of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth Univ., Richmond, VA, USA

Discusses improving the quality of life for epilepsy patients with a lower-cost, convenient alternative to in-hospital epilepsy monitoring. Since its inception 30 years ago, ambulatory EEG (AEEG) has continued to evolve-from 4-channel tape recorders to 32-channel digital recorders with sophisticated automatic spike and seizure detection algorithms. AEEG remains an important tool in epilepsy evaluation. In the near future, smaller, faster, and more sophisticated AEEGs will be developed. Seizure detection/anticipation systems will allow the wearer to be forewarned of a seizure so that appropriate safety measures can be taken. With further refinement in our understanding of nonlinear dynamic analysis to define the pre-ictal state, AEEG will be coupled with an accurate seizure anticipation device in a closed-loop system, providing a time window during which therapeutic intervention can occur, to prevent a seizure. The therapeutic intervention will most likely involve vagus nerve or deep brain stimulation. An alternative is that the patient may learn to recognize early symptoms of the pre-ictal state and use behavioral biofeedback interventions to avoid a clinical seizure. In order to achieve convenient ambulatory recording and seizure detection that could realistically improve the lives of patients with refractory epilepsy, the process of miniaturization of such a device to a convenient size must be accomplished. One of the aspects of epilepsy that patients find most frustrating, and that most limits activities, is the vulnerability to sudden unexpected incapacitation due to the occurrence of a seizure. With miniaturization of AEEG and seizure anticipation technology, and advancements in our ability to identify the transition from pre-ictal to ictal state, there is realistic hope that patients with refractory epilepsy may gain control over their seizures and enjoy significantly improved quality of life.

Published in:

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 3 )