Seizure-detecting wristwatch moves forward: Embrace

As Epilepsy Awareness month closes out and we embark upon the holiday season, we’re pleased to see an innovation initiated here at Boston Children’s Hospital move toward commercial development. This wearable device for patients with epilepsy, called Embrace, is like a “smoke alarm” for unwitnessed seizures that may potentially prevent tragic cases of sudden, unexpected death from epilepsy (SUDEP) in the future.

The Bluetooth-enabled, sensor-loaded wristband, using technology developed and tested in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, can detect the onset of a convulsive seizure based on the wearer’s movements and autonomic nervous system activity. Parents, caregivers or even roommates can wear a “companion” Embrace that vibrates an alert, so they can quickly intervene.

Read more about research on the device at Boston Children’s Epilepsy Center and its potential to not just prevent SUDEP, but also help understand children’s overall seizure patterns so to better time epilepsy medications. The device developer, Empatica, has started a crowdfunding campaign to develop an improved prototype and set up a website where people can make early purchases to help fund development and FDA submission of the promised device.

  • Terry Carter Sloan

    I’m really interested in this device.. I’m a 44yr old epileptic. I’ve had seizures since I was 8yrs old. That’s when I had my first seizure. My seizures are so far advanced that I’m having them in my sleep. I would actually like to know if this device would be suitable for myself. I’m interested in knowing if it is and how much it would be. My 22yr old daughter also has juvenile EPILEPSY, this device could also be a plus to her life as well…. Again, how much and if it would be a benefit for older adults….

    • nansona

      Hi, Terry, see my above replies… and all the best. Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor.

  • nansona

    Hi, Christina, the device is under continued research and development and will not be available commercially until at least July 2015, according to the company (Empatica). To fund further development, the company is accepting pre-payments for the device for a limited time through a crowdfunding campaign (visit their website here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/embrace-a-gorgeous-watch-designed-to-save-lives ). Boston Children’s Hospital isn’t involved in this funding campaign, but our research team, including Dr. Tobias Loddenkemper and others in the Boston Children’s Hospital Epilepsy Center, is actively investigating seizure detection devices, including a prototype of Empatica’s product. We recommend that you consult your epilepsy doctor to determine which device works best for your child, as some devices may not pick up on specific seizure types. (If you’re near Boston & it’s for your child, you can contact the Boston Children’s Epilepsy Center (617-355-7970.) –Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • nansona

    Hi, Cody – see the above reply to Christina. –Nancy Fliesler (Vector editor)

  • nansona

    Hi, Jessica, the wristband is actively being evaluated at several medical centers to determine how reliably it detects different types of seizures. Research here at Boston Children’s Hospital has found the wristband to detect most generalized tonic-clonic seizures (aka grand mal seizures). However, the device also generates false alarms. We are now extending our research to verify the reliability of the device, minimize false alarms, begin to individualize the device for each child, and determine whether it can be adapted to detect other types of seizures. –Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • nansona

    Hi, Melissa, that’s still being investigated (see reply above to Jessica Ross). –Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • nansona

    Hi, Maria, see my reply to Christina – and all the best. –Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • nansona

    I’m not sure if this has really been studied (we only know of the pediatric studies done here). Perhaps the company (Empatica) has more info. The technology picks up motions & something called “skin conductance” – I think therefore it may be universal but would probably need to be verified in actual tests. (See above replies for more info). All best, Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • nansona

    Hi, Jackson, it’s still under study and according to the company (Empatica) it won’t be available commercially until 2015 – however, this link is to a crowdfunding campaign where the company is offering limited #’s of an early version: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/embrace-a-gorgeous-watch-designed-to-save-lives. See above replies for more info). Best, Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • Angela Sorani Palmer

    Would this work with non-epileptic seizures caused by a vaccine injury?

    • nansona

      I think this device is meant for people who have ongoing seizures. If you’re the parent of a child with seizures, your best bet is to ask an epilepsy physician. There are various devices available and some may not pick up on specific seizure types. (If you’re near Boston, you can contact the Boston Children’s Epilepsy Center (617-355-7970.) Or you can try Empatica which is now selling one of the devices: https://www.empatica.com/product-embrace. -Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • Sheila Howard Straub

    My son Tristan is 6 years old and has epilepsy. Along with being globally delayed, cerebral palsy, CMT 1A, Autism, and 9P deletion syndrome. As you can see our lives are a bit crazy with 6 different diagnoses. We are at the docs or therapy session pretty all the time. I would love to learn how to purchase one of these. My son has sleep awake epilepsy so numerous times I’ve been woken hope with Tristan in a full seizure. This would help ease my stress quite a bit.

    • nansona

      Hi, Sheila – see above for a link to the company, which is now marketing the device. If you are in the Boston area, you can contact the Boston Children’s Epilepsy Center (617-355-7970) if you would like an evaluation for Tristan. Nancy Fliesler (Vector editor)

  • Seth J Willey

    Can it work for adults as well ? I have epilepsy my self and it would be great if it would it sounds almost like an eeg/mri in a bracelet

    • nansona

      Hi, Seth. I’m not sure if this has really been studied (we only know of the
      pediatric studies done here). Perhaps the company (Empatica) has more
      info. The technology picks up motions & something called “skin
      conductance” – I think therefore it may be universal but would probably
      need to be verified in actual tests. (See above replies for more info).
      All best, Nancy Fliesler, Vector editor

  • Seth J Willey

    Let us all know how it goes we would all like to hear about the results

  • Angela Bracey

    If possible I would like more information and how to get one and the cost

    • nansona

      Hi, Angela. The wristwatch is being commercially sold – see https://www.empatica.com/product-embrace. It continues to be evaluated at several medical centers to
      determine how reliably it detects different types of seizures. Research
      here at Boston Children’s Hospital has found that it detects
      most generalized tonic-clonic seizures (aka grand mal seizures).
      However, the device also generates false alarms. We continuing research to verify its reliability, minimize false
      alarms, begin to individualize the device for each child, and determine
      whether it can be adapted to detect other types of seizures. –Nancy
      Fliesler, Vector editor