Skip to Main Content

UNF research study will help predict seizures in women through wearable devices

Dr. Mona Nasseri, University of North Florida assistant professor of electrical engineering, has been awarded a $199K National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to research wearable devices for women with seizure disorders to better predict the onset of a seizure event.

The study will focus on improving the quality of life of women with epilepsy by creating forecasting algorithms that can help manage the doses of anti-seizure medication based on the predicted seizure risk. The research will also provide training opportunities for a diverse group of UNF undergraduate and graduate students.

Almost 1% of the world's population lives with epilepsy and half of them are women, whose seizures and anti-seizure medicines affect their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause and bone health. The research will investigate hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle and their effects on seizure risks in women. UNF researchers will analyze physiological signals recorded with noninvasive wearable devices and consider hormonal changes in the design to mitigate false alarms and improve sensitivity.

Designing a reliable seizure forecasting algorithm will allow patients to use lower baseline doses of medications, with escalated doses given during times of high seizure risk. Additionally, investigating the gender-specific parameters affecting seizure risk and implementing them in managing epilepsy will lead to significant improvements in quality of life for women with epilepsy.

Dr. Nasseri recently collaborated with the Mayo Clinic on a study that found patterns when researchers compared physiological data – collected by a monitoring device worn on the wrist -- with the actual time of a seizure. Through analysis of data, such as heart rate, body temperature and movement, researchers determined that they could have been able to forecast most of the seizures about 30 minutes before they occurred for five of six patients studied. As a result, they recently published their findings showing that it is possible to provide reliable seizure forecasts without directly measuring brain activity. This study was part of the Epilepsy Foundation of America's Epilepsy Innovation Institute, and the My Seizure Gauge project, which is an international collaboration aimed at using wearable devices for seizure detection and forecasting in epilepsy.