A UK neuroscientist at the University of Sussex is launching a campaign to develop a non-drug therapy package for epilepsy that people can use from home.
Dr Yoko Nagai has been working on a behavioural system called biofeedback, which can help people learn to reduce their epileptic seizures. Biofeedback works by monitoring body signals that we are not usually aware of, like blood pressure or brainwaves. These signals are then displayed on a screen, allowing the person to see them change and learn to increase or decrease them.
Dr Nagai’s treatment uses electrodermal activity – detecting changes in the bodily state of alertness using sensors on the skin. Dr Nagai explained that seizures are often connected to a person’s emotional, mental or physical state, with stress and anxiety reported as common triggers. These triggers also affect the body’s electrodermal activity, making it a good measure of the risk of a seizure.
Studies have shown that biofeedback can be an effective way of learning to control epileptic seizures. Most of the studies using electrodermal activity have focused on people with temporal lobe epilepsy, but further trials will look at other types too.
Through her campaign, Dr Nagai’s hopes to develop self-contained therapy packages to enable people with epilepsy to access this therapy at home. The therapy is called Autonomic Cognitive Rehabituation Training: ACRT.
Dr Nagai, said: “Although every day I help people with epilepsy face-to-face, I am very motivated to be able to disseminate my therapy to many more patients who can benefit from this approach.”
Dr Nagai founded the Biofeedback Clinic in Brighton in 2005, in response to increasing demand from patients after the first clinical trial.
For more information on this therapy, visit the New Therapy for Epilepsy website.