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Emerging technologies and epilepsy

Karen Furnivall's picture
Thu, 2018-03-29 15:10 -- Karen Furnivall
Big Data Big Heart Hackathon
On the last weekend in October nearly 100 fantastic volunteers came together for the Big Data Big Heart Hackathon to create solutions for three charities making a difference in the lives of Queenslanders. Epilepsy Queensland was one of the lucky beneficiaries alongside Diabetes Queensland and RACQ Lifeflight. We put forward five challenges faced by Queenslanders living with epilepsy and their families. 
The challenges:
  • a need for age appropriate resources for children and teenagers living with epilepsy
  • the challenge of getting referrals so that we can help more Queenslanders to live well with epilepsy
  • public awareness of epilepsy and seizure including the challenges that epilepsy brings to everyday life and what to do if someone has a seizure
  • lack of a coordinated approach to sharing medical and wellness information across medical professionals who treat people living with epilepsy
  • capturing seizure activity data in real time and the ability to predict seizures
Client Services Coordinator Jenny Ritchie was on hand in the lead up to the Hackathon and most of the weekend to give the teams an understanding of epilepsy and answer their questions.
Consumer representative Chiara Wood spoke from the heart about what it’s like to live with epilepsy, the challenges she faces and talked about some of the solutions that are desperately needed. Chiara was our representative on the judging panel assessing the solutions.
We were thrilled with the many innovative solutions presented and the passion of the participants to help people living with epilepsy.
The solutions:
The winners were: Medtech – they developed an app so that people can take charge of their own medical records and have them available to share with emergency medical staff and members of their medical team.
Second prize went to: Epishare who were also looking at an app where people could store information about their children’s medical condition, medications and treatments so that they could share with carers, support workers teachers and other people involved in the care of their child.
Third place went to a web based mapping and chat bot solution for Lifeflight to help them with the logistics of scheduling their flights.
An honorable mention went to Reach Out who developed a chat bot for our website and Facebook messenger. It can be loaded with our most frequently asked questions and answers so that when people contact us electronically out of hours they can be engaged or redirected to call or email us. The team named the chat bot avatar ‘The Legendary Jenny’.
A Health Challenge App for people with or at risk of Type 2 diabetes from Health U also received an honorable mention.
There were a range of other solutions for Queenslanders living with epilepsy including a high school video competition to raise awareness for epilepsy, a video monitoring system that could potentially detect absence seizures and an e-learning solution.
We are extremely grateful to the sponsors and organisers of the Hackathon Cloudtrek, Amazon Web Services, Trend Micro, Telstra, Fishburners ,Youi and just digital people. Special thanks to Neil Hitz and Lyndon Swan from Cloudtrek, Elgin Lam from AWS and Josh Wolf for organising this amazing event. We look forward to working with Cloudtrek and many of the teams that are interested in giving more time to make these solutions a reality.
Technology forum
Following on from the inspiration of the Hackathon we were thrilled to hold a technology forum and expert panel at our annual celebration which was also streamed live on Facebook answering the question “Can technology provide new solutions for epilepsy”.
Dr Sasha Dionisio outlined advances in epilepsy surgery including a surgical Robot, cortico-cortical evoked potential, Repetitive Neurostimulation, PRISMA, DBS and GAMMA knife.
He was joined by an expert panel including Dush Wimal, CEO of SmartCap and Elgin Wood from Amazon Web Services who discussed wearable EEG technology for advanced pre-emptive seizure detection. Neil Hitz from Cloud Trek and consumer representative Chiara Wood, plus Hackathon team members discussed technological solutions developed from the Big Data Big Heart Hackathon.
Wearable seizure detection technology
Dr Dionisio as part of his presentation discussed the ‘Fitbit’ for the brain developed by Melbourne scientists and currently being trialed. The technology detects brain waves via a small eeg device implanted behind the ear with a string of electrodes running beneath the scalp. The information is then sent via a smart phone or computer. By analysing this information, the technology learns how to predict seizures and can send an alert to the person living with epilepsy, their emergency contact or doctor. The device also has applications for mapping of seizures
prior to epilepsy surgery. Potentially this will enable more people to have the source of their seizures mapped and more candidates for surgery that can put an end to seizures.
SmartCap currently markets wearable eeg technology to measure fatigue and microsleeps in the mining and transport industry. It can be worn as a head band or as part of a hard hat or cap, connecting via Bluetooth to an app on a smart device. Mr Dush Wimal outlined how the device has the future capability for warning of pending seizures for people with epilepsy. The technology uses algorithms based on eeg.
Elgin Wood is the Technical Account Manager at Amazon Web Services and also lives with epilepsy. He believes that eeg headsets could be utilised to capture brainwaves so they can be analysed to predict seizure patterns. Using a smartphone, the data could be uploaded to the cloud in realtime. The objective is to then analyse the data and predict when medical problems occur so that actions and alerts can be performed. An IoT (Internet of Things) button could also be pushed to indicate when a seizure has occurred.
The objective is to find a brainwave pattern for each patient, which can signal the onset of a seizure. Once the patient’s “seizure pattern” has been established, the incoming data can be continually analysed for patterns and if a seizure pattern is predicted, notifications can be sent via SMS. Once you can predict, you can pre-emptively act. Push notifications (Including GPS location) could be sent to family members or persons physically near the patient (ie in a workplace) so that first aid measures can be performed.
While these advanced seizure detection technologies may be some distance away for everyday use, there are a number of free apps currently available that can assist with the management of epilepsy. 
  1. My Epilepsy team ( is a social network for people living with epilepsy. You can connect with others near you (or around the world) with a similar diagnosis, share your experience with epilepsy, how you are feeling as well as access resources.
  2. Seizure Tracker ( – Keep track of seizure length, type, potential triggers and associated symptoms to assist with the management of epilepsy.
  3. Seizure First Aide ( – This app developed by the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota gives the four steps of seizure first aid that could save a life. There is also a handy seizure timer and videos of the most common seizure types to assist with seizure identification.
  4. Snug Safety ( – For anyone who lives alone this is a daily check-in service that will notify your emergency contact if you don’t respond by a designated time. This app includes free and paid plans.
  5. ICE Medical Standard ( – This app allows you to input and share your medical and emergency contact information with first responders on your phone’s lock screen.
For more information on technologies that can assist with the management of epilepsy contact our services team on 07 3435 5000 or 1300 852 853 (outside Brisbane).
Nichols. (15 September 2017) The 10 best epilepsy apps, Healthline Media UK Ltd, Medical News Today, Retrieved from