A group of electrical engineering students at Sonoma State University is working on a wearable device that may save lives and make everyday tasks like cooking meals less fearful for those suffering from epilepsy and other seizure-inducing conditions.
“The most important thing about this project is it could save my wife from a potentially horrible accident,” says Art Obuchowicz, who partnered with the group after a meeting with SSU Engineering Science Department Chair Farid Farahmand.
Obuchowicz, who owns an appliance repair business in Santa Rosa, says he sometimes takes time off work to stay home if his wife feels a seizure may happen that day. She wears a helmet and back protection, but those safety measures alone aren’t enough to prevent a fire should a seizure hit at the wrong moment, like when she’s using the stove.
The device is a Fitbit-like bracelet that will be able to detect seizures, send alerts to a caregiver and shut off appliances like an oven or stove. Some seizures can last several minutes, with effects felt for hours after.
Each year at least 200,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy.
It affects more people than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's combined, yet receives fewer federal dollars per patient than each of these.