Apple Watch App Helps Doctors Gain Seizure Insights

An iPhone app called EpiWatch with a custom Apple Watch complication, which was developed by Johns Hopkins using Apple’s ResearchKit software framework, is being used to discover the most common triggers of epileptic seizures in a 10-month study involving 598 people. The findings of the study will be presented today at the American Academy of Neurology’s 69th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts (via MacRumors). 


The app’s Apple Watch complication provides patients with one-touch access to record accelerometer and heart rate sensor data. When participants felt a seizure aura coming on, they were asked to launch the app to let it record their heart rate and movements for 10 minutes. After the seizure had come to an end, participants filled out a brief survey about seizure type, aura, loss of awareness, and possible trigger that led to the seizure. 

“The data collected will help researchers better understand epilepsy, while helping people with epilepsy keep a more complete history of their seizures,” said study author Gregory Krauss, MD, in a press release. “The app also provides helpful tracking of seizures, prescription medication use and drug side effects — activities that are important in helping people manage their condition.”

Overall, 40 percent of the group tracked a total of 1,485 seizures, with 177 people reporting what triggered their seizures. Stress was revealed to be the most common trigger, and was linked to 37 percent of the seizures.

The insights result from one of the three ResearchKit studies about autism, epilepsy and melanoma, launched by Johns Hopkins and Oregon Health & Science University in 2015.

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