December 2, 2019

Study Finds Presence of Wires, Bulky Size and Need for Support Important Factors in Wearing Multimodal Sensor Devices Intended to Detect Epileptic Seizures

BACKGROUND: The health management of patients with epilepsy could be improved by wearing devices that reliably detect when epileptic seizures happen. For the devices to be widely adopted, they must be acceptable and easy to use for patients, and their views are very important. Previous studies have collected feedback from patients on hypothetical devices, but very few have examined experience of wearing actual devices.

PURPOSE: This study assessed the first-hand experiences of people with epilepsy using wearable devices, continuously over a period of time. The aim was to understand how acceptable and easy they were to use, and whether it is reasonable to expect that people will use them.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Adults with a diagnosis of epilepsy admitted routinely to a hospital epilepsy monitoring unit were asked to wear one, or more, wearable biosensor devices, tested for seizure detection. The devices are designed to continuously monitor and record signals from the body (biosignals). Participants completed semistructured interviews about their experiences of wearing the device(s). A systematic thematic analysis extracted themes from the interviews, focusing on acceptability and usability. Feedback was organized into (1) participants’ experiences of the devices, any support they required and reasons for stopping wearing them; (2) their thoughts about using this technology outside a hospital setting.

RESULTS: Twenty-one people with epilepsy wore one, or more, wearable devices for an average of 112.81 (SD = 71.83) hours. Participants found the devices convenient, and had no problem wearing them in hospital or sharing the data collected from them with the researchers and medical professionals. However, the presence of wires, bulky size, discomfort, and need for support, moderated experience. Participants’ thoughts about wearing them in everyday life were strongly influenced by how visible and perceived accuracy. Willingness to use a smartphone app to complete questionnaires depended on the frequency, number of questions, and support.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, this work provides evidence about the feasibility and acceptability of using wearable devices to monitor seizure activity in people with epilepsy. Key barriers and facilitators to use while in hospital and hypothetical use in everyday life were identified and will be helpful for guiding future implementation.

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