Health / Health tech / Technology

Here’s a use for the Apple Watch: medical research

An app called EpiWatch was a key conduit for data collection in an epilepsy study at Johns Hopkins. Developers built it using Apple's ResearchKit software framework.

An Apple Watch. (Photo by Flickr user home thods, used under a Creative Commons license)

For folks who still use an Apple Watch, the ability to track health metrics like sleep and heart rate is nice to have.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that data useful in their quest to figure out what causes the sudden seizures that are a part of epilepsy.
A team led by neurology professor Gregory Krauss created an Apple Watch app that was used by participants in a study on epilepsy triggers. This week, preliminary results of a new study are being published that conclude stress and missed sleep are triggers of seizures.
The app, called EpiWatch, is designed to track seizures. It uses the sensors in the Apple Watch to record heart rate and movement for 10 minutes, according to information provided by the American Academy of Neurology.
Just shy of 600 people used it during the 10-month study. They were directed to open the app when they felt an aura of a seizure. Then they were tested on responsiveness tasks within the app, and answered a survey about what happened.
The results, which will be presented at the Academy’s conference in April, show that stress was the most common trigger, with 37 percent among those who reported seizures identifying it as the cause. Sleep was second, with 18 percent reporting.
“The data collected will help researchers better understand epilepsy, while helping people with epilepsy keep a more complete history of their seizures,” Krauss said.
The app was billed as the first to be built using Apple’s ResearchKit software framework, and also gathers information on how patients respond to medications.
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Companies: Bio-Rad Laboratories

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