If your loved one is having seizures at night, you may find it difficult to sleep yourself. Many parents feel compelled to sleep in the same room as their child, so if a seizure occurs they will be able to respond immediately. Using movement detection monitors are a better way to alert to nocturnal seizures, and they will also allow your loved one to have their independence. Movement detection monitors are programmed to alert when several seconds of sustained movement, like what someone would experience during a seizure, are detected. There are several kinds of movement monitors on the market and they work in different ways:
Bed Monitor — Bed monitor devices trigger an alert when they sense repetitive muscle spasms like that of a tonic-clonic seizure. These monitors usually consist of two main components: a flexible and durable bed sensor placed on or under the mattress and a bed-side monitor with detection software. These devices detect when a person has continuous fast movements over a pre-set amount of time (which is often adjustable to suit your needs) and then triggers an audible alarm. One example of this type of device is the Emfit Monitor.
Video Monitor — Some parents use different types of baby monitors to check in on their child during sleep, but there are also seizure-detecting cameras with more advanced software. These seizure-detecting video monitors are placed in the child’s room facing the bed, and during sleep, audio-video information from the camera is sent to an application running on a smartphone or tablet. The app records and analyzes the video for unusual activity and when it notices repetitive movement, it will sound an alarm in the app. One example of this type of device is the SAMi Monitor.
Wearables — These devices are movement detecting and alerting monitors typically worn on the wrist. The wearable looks for several seconds of repetitive, shaking motion similar to that of a tonic-clonic seizure. Once the motion is detected, the wearable will alert family members via text message or phone call. The wearables also often have a help button which the wearer can press to call for help for any reason. Due to these features, the individual wearing the monitor will need to have their own smartphone with a data plan that is able to pair to the wearable device; typically, the cell phone and the watch cannot be further than about 15 feet from each other to ensure that if a seizure were to occur, the watch and phone could communicate properly. One example of this type of device is the SmartMonitor watch. While these monitors can be a very helpful tool for families, they can also be very expensive and are typically not covered by insurance.
If you are interested in investing in a movement monitor, you should first decide which monitor works the best for you/your loved one’s seizures. If the nocturnal seizures do not involve sustained movement, the monitor will not alert you when those seizures occur.
We provide financial support to qualified applicants through a grant from the Emma Bursick Memorial Fund for purchase of in-home monitoring devices. The monitors that are currently covered by this grant include the SAMi, Emfit Movement Monitor, and SmartMonitor. You can find more information about each of these monitors and the application for this program on the movement monitors page.