Public Release: 

Plymouth researchers help to develop the first epilepsy risk app

They have worked with a national UK charity and partners in the NHS to develop an app for people to assess their epilepsy risk between visits to their doctor

University of Plymouth

UK national charity SUDEP Action has launched its Stay Smart campaign for National Epilepsy Week - 17 May to 23 May, which aims to encourage people with epilepsy to register for a new safety app. The technology, EpSMon, is designed to help people with epilepsy assess their risks in between visits with doctors and has been developed using expertise from Plymouth University.

SUDEP Action Chief Executive Jane Hanna said: "People may only see a doctor once a year for their epilepsy. People live busy lives and our National Epilepsy Week Stay Smart campaign is designed to help people manage their risk the rest of the time. EpSMon is designed to help people be aware of why and when a medical review of their epilepsy is important. It will flag up whether help should be sought earlier than planned because risks have worsened."

The risk of fatality for most people with epilepsy is low, but the risk factors are poorly misunderstood in the community. Research commissioned by SUDEP Action and funded by Kt's Fund found that many people who died were not in contact with their doctor in the year before they died even though their risk factors had worsened.

EpSMon was created by a team of partners based at Plymouth University, SUDEP Action, Cornwall Foundation NHS Trust and Royal Cornwall Hospital.

There are more than 600, 000 people with epilepsy in the UK, with 87 people diagnosed with the condition every day. Epilepsy claims at least 1,200 lives in the UK every year, at least 600 of these are Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Research shows that about 40 per cent of these deaths may be preventable through better management of known risk factors.

The national guidelines encourage people with epilepsy to attend regular reviews with their GP, but this may only be once in a year. EpSMon is designed to help people monitor their epilepsy in between their visits to doctors. The app contains guidance to help people better understand SUDEP and the factors which may affect their risk. It will show which risks are getting better, which have worsened and which have stayed the same so people can show this to their GP.

The app cannot guarantee that people are never at risk, but it can help them self-monitor and take action if needed. It will help people decide whether to seek help earlier than their next planned visit and make them aware of why and when a medical review of their epilepsy is important.

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