Can texting save a life? A new device sends emergency text messages during a seizure

imageEpilepsy detection system creator Rick Housley at TEDxHoboken

This is the story of an 18-year-old engineering student whose train delay gave him the idea for a life-saving new device for people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy affects 65 million people worldwide. About 1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their lives, and about one-third of those people will live with uncontrolled seizures.
In 2010, TEDxHoboken speaker Rick Housley was on a train stopped in a station due to a medical emergency: a woman on the train was having a seizure. In his talk, he explains what happened:

Naturally, I’m a bit peeved as I just sprinted to catch this train. I had my heavy bookbag and my gym bag. But my attitude quickly changed when I heard the reason for the delay: a medical emergency. Apparently, a women in the car ahead of mine had had a seizure. Fortunately, due to some quick medical attention, she was all right, and my train departed…

[But] I began to wonder, what if she hadn’t been on a train, a train in Boston surrounded by medical professionals? What if, instead, she was at home? What if she was at home with her toddlers? What if she were on a run? What if she were in the shower? Frankly, the answers to these questions frightened me.

So, at age 18, the young engineering student partnered with a medical device company for IP and technology to develop a detection and notification system for people with convulsive seizures.

Housley’s device, still in development, is worn on the wrist and detects seizures by monitoring its wearer’s movements — alerting a list of important contacts via text message if the dangerous movements typical to a convulsive seizure begin to occur.

Below, Housley’s entire talk, which provides more insight into his device and the data behind it:

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