Epilepsy sufferers may be at risk from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Witnessing of night time seizures is obviously difficult. Monitoring methodologies (seizure alarms) are available but their relative efficacy and usability have been open to further investigation.
The Nightwatch device is based on the concept of neurologist and research leader Prof. Dr. Johan Arends and colleagues and has been developed by a consortium comprising an epilepsy centre, a University of Technology, the Foundation for Epilepsy Institutions in the Netherlands (SEIN), UMC Utrecht, the Epilepsy Fund, patient representatives and LivAssured (the company bringing the product to market).
Its website describes Nightwatch as using a "unique algorithm that can recognize specific heart rate and motion patterns indicating a clinically urgent seizure. " The device then acts to send a wireless alert to the caregiver.
The Neurology journal study evaluated performance of the device as compared to a bed sensor which senses the vibrations that can be caused by rhythmic jerks, and found that multimodal Nightwatch's sensitivity was superior.
In fact the Journal described the sensitivity of the bed sensor (median 21%) as being significantly lower than the Nightwatch (median 85%). User-friendliness of the device was also measured via questionnaire and found to be 7.3 for Nightwatch (1 being the lowest and 10 being highest user-friendliness).
A press release from LivAssured surmised that "The Nightwatch can now be widely used among adults, both in institutions and at home" and that Prof. Dr. Johan Arends "expects that this may reduce the number of cases of SUDEP by two-thirds, although this also depends on how quickly and adequately care providers or informal carers respond to the alerts." The press release concluded that, if applied globally, Nightwatch could save thousands of lives.