Epilepsy Talk

An Earbud to Predict Seizures? The Future is Here! | October 28, 2016

Imagine a tiny, unobtrusive brain monitor — like an earbud or a hearing aid — that could read brainwaves through the ear.

Amazing as it sounds, this tiny device could help predict seizures and track daily seizures in people with uncontrolled epilepsy, according to a small pilot study.

Engineers at Imperial College in London have developed exactly that. An EEG device that can be worn inside the ear, like a hearing aid.

They say the device will allow scientists to record EEGs for several days at a time. This would allow doctors to monitor patients who have regularly recurring seizures.

The device is limited by the fact that it’s best at recording activity from the region it’s attached to, the temporal lobe, but an ear-based EEG has other advantages.

Having a device that fits right in the ear makes it easier to keep the electrodes in the same spot for accurate readings, and reduces the signal noise created by body movement.

The wearer can still hear through it, making it an inconspicuous way to monitor the brain activity of people who have daily seizures.

By nestling the EEG inside the ear, the engineers avoid a lot of signal noise usually introduced by body movement. And it allows researchers to record EEG data over multiple days, even as patients move around.

They can also ensure that the electrodes are always placed in exactly the same spot which, they say, will make repeated readings more reliable.

“The ideal is to have a very stable recording system, and recordings which are repeatable,” explains co-creator Dr. Danilo Mandic.

“It’s not interfering with your normal life, because there are acoustic vents so people can hear. After a while, they forget they’re having an EEG.”

Also, an Israeli start-up called HeadSense, has developed a pair of earbuds which claims it can monitor pressure inside the human skull.

These earbuds are made of medical-grade EEG sensors to capture brain activity 2,000 times per second and a Bluetooth radio to shoot your thoughts to the smartphone, tablet, or PC of your choice.

HeadSense’s earbuds work by emitting low-frequency sounds and monitoring changes in the sound waves as they pass through the brain.

Increased pressure causes blood flow in the brain to decrease.

And according to HeadSense, the corresponding narrowing of the blood vessels causes the sounds to raise in pitch.

This data is fed wirelessly to the device of your choice which performs the calculations to convert the measurements into a pressure reading.

It all sounds pretty amazing.

And of course, for patients who don’t respond to drugs, it could be a triumph.

But larger trials are needed, before these earbuds become an approved FDA reality.

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  1. Terrific! Thank you for the news. Can’t wait until it’s readily available!


    Comment by Tina — October 28, 2016 @ 5:15 PM

  2. Tina, it sounds really remarkable, doesn’t it?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 28, 2016 @ 5:33 PM

  3. Will send my daughter across the pond to be a part of this!


    Comment by Cassandra Kennedy — October 28, 2016 @ 5:41 PM

  4. If this is approved,an I Give up medicine as I hate taking medicine and is it good for people like me who have no auras?


    Comment by Mary Jane Levell — October 28, 2016 @ 6:04 PM

  5. I really don’t know, but I don’t think it precludes taking your meds.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 28, 2016 @ 6:21 PM

  6. Would this eliminate the video EEG in hospital?


    Comment by Martha — October 28, 2016 @ 8:46 PM

    • I don’t think so. The VEEG takes the EEG one step further in that it allows prolonged simultaneous recording of the patient’s behavior and the EEG.

      Seeing EEG and video data at the same time, permits precise correlation between seizure activity in the brain and the patient’s behavior during seizures.

      Video-EEG allows the doctor to determine: whether events with unusual features are epileptic seizures, the type of epileptic seizure, and the region of the brain from which the seizures arise.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 29, 2016 @ 8:32 AM

  7. Thanks If they need a guinia pig I volunteer!,,,


    Comment by Mary — October 28, 2016 @ 11:30 PM

  8. Interesting, if I get a Ping… Ping or click…click sound in my left ear, I know its seizure day or will be within an hour to 24 hours. It has become a fairly reliable warning signal I’m on Dilantin and Vimpat. I wonder if I could be a good beta tester for this device.


    Comment by alan — October 29, 2016 @ 1:45 AM

  9. Wow, technology is amazing. As someone who is having breakthrough seizures and is facing hospital admittance for a continuous EEG,I’d prefer this earpiece method.


    Comment by Tracy — October 29, 2016 @ 8:09 AM

  10. I don’t think it would replace the continuous EEG which studies the brain waves over time, because with the continuous EEG, medication is stopped for the duration of this test, since the objective is for seizures to occur allowing the abnormal brain waves they produce to be recorded.

    There’s the video camera connected to the EEG providing constant monitoring, which enables the medical team to pinpoint the area where a seizure occurs and track the patient’s physiological response to the seizure.

    Continuous monitoring can also help distinguish between epilepsy and other conditions.

    It can characterize the seizure type for more precise medication adjustments and locate the originating area of seizures within the brain.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 29, 2016 @ 8:41 AM

  11. Awesome. They have invented a gadget that can do what my seizure alert dog does.


    Comment by paleobird — October 29, 2016 @ 9:58 PM

  12. 🙂 🙂 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 30, 2016 @ 8:48 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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