April 15, 2022

Student Designs Device to Help Detect Seizures

Article published by UGA Today

It started in a high school physics class in Duluth, Georgia, when Ashley Galanti was given the assignment to create something to help people with diseases. Both her mother and brother have epilepsy, so she designed a wearable case holding a mouth guard used to protect people during seizures.

“It pushed the top jaw forward and opened the airway to prevent people from shattering their teeth, biting their tongue or suffocating during a seizure,” said Galanti.

She took the project to the Gwinnett Regional Science/Engineering Fair in 2017 and got third place. However, “People were like, well, you can’t really put the mouth guard in your mouth when you’re having a seizure already.”

And that could have been the end of it.

But Galanti is not the kind of person who gives up.

“We’re working towards the creation of the first-ever sensor that is able to use chemoreception,” she said. The idea is to detect the 11 volatile organic compounds that people release via skin, sweat and saliva before a seizure.

“I’m planning on it being an armband that you wear with a sensor placed at the armpit,” she said. “It’ll be really lightweight so that people who wear it won’t really notice it.”

The device will alert the wearer, but Galanti also wants to integrate it with Bluetooth to connect it with an app to alert family members and/or emergency services. “It would be really revolutionary in helping people who are unable to stop their seizures from occurring, especially when they’re doing something like driving, swimming or cooking.”