Aids and Supportive Devices
If you have epilepsy, you probably take medicines to control seizures. You may have had surgery, too. Many people also use diet and lifestyle changes to stay as healthy as possible. In addition, there are many aids and devices that people with epilepsy use as part of their treatment plan.
The most common epilepsy aids and devices include:1,2
- Medical IDs
- Medicine reminders
- Alarms and monitors
- Safety pillows
- Seizure alert dogs
Medical ID bracelets, tags, necklaces, and wallet cards are one of the most basic tools people with epilepsy use. Medical IDs give medical responders basic, important information about your health if you cannot speak for yourself.
There are many types of IDs. Some simply have your information engraved on the back. Others connect to a database with your information through a phone number, push button, or scannable QR code.1,2
Learn more about medical IDs at the Medic Alert Foundation.
Anyone taking medicines on a schedule may need help remembering to take their drugs on time. This can be especially true for people with memory problems or brain fog caused by seizures and the side effects of some anti-seizure drugs. The good news is that there are many helpful services and tools for this.
Texting for Control is a service for people ages 13 and older. Texting for Control sends texts to your phone to remind you to take your drugs. You may also receive motivational messages and record seizures, emergency room visits, rescue meds, and injuries in a personal diary. You can then share this diary with your doctor.2
The service is sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation. You can register for it on the Epilepsy Foundation website.
An automated pill dispenser is another helpful tool. These dispensers can be loaded with medicines weekly or monthly and programmed to open and dispense drugs at a set day and time. You can also set an alarm on your phone or elsewhere as a reminder.
If you have seizures that cause you to fall, your doctor may suggest wearing a helmet. This helps protect you from more brain trauma.
Some helmets come with a visor or face shield if you tend to fall forward. Others have more cushioning on the back and sides if you tend to fall backward. A chin strap keeps the helmet snug on the head. A good fit helps the helmet better absorb any impact during a fall.4,5
Headgear comes in a variety of colors and patterns. It can be soft or hard like a construction hard hat. Some have built-in room for cool gel packs to keep someone from overheating. This can be good for those who live in a warm climate or who have seizures triggered by high temperatures.4,5
Some people also use bike, hockey, baseball, football, and boxing helmets for this purpose.4,5
Alarms and monitors
Seizure alarms come in many different forms. Some may be more helpful for certain types of seizures.
Nighttime alarms are designed to help people who have seizures at night. There are 2 basic types: those that are worn to detect motion alone, and those that include video and audio recordings. Both types detect unusual movement that may indicate seizures. The devices then alert someone else with an alarm.5-7
There are also smartwatch and smartphone alarms that alert someone if you have a seizure with movement, such as a generalized tonic-clonic seizure. Smartwatches and smartphones will not detect small seizures – only seizures with major movement.5-7
Some seizure alarms self-activate, and others have a button you can push to alert medical services. There are also specialized smartwatches that include a fall detector and GPS tracker so you can be found more easily.5-7
While smart devices hold great promise, these tools can be expensive.
Safety pillows are pillows with extra holes that allow air to move more freely if a person is face down. Some believe these more breathable pillows may help people who tend to have seizures at night. The belief is that these more breathable pillows may prevent sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). However, there are no studies to prove this idea. You may also see these called anti-suffocation pillows.8,9
Seizure alert dogs
A seizure alert dog is a dog that has been trained to respond to someone having a seizure. These dogs can be trained to:10
- Bark to alert caregivers
- Move in a way to break a person’s fall
- Move away potentially dangerous objects
- Stay by their person until they return to awareness and help encourage them to wake up
- Push an alarm to alert others
Training a seizure alert dog is expensive and takes time. Sometimes you can train your own dog. Some breeds are more suitable for these tasks than others. The Epilepsy Foundation maintains a list of organizations that provide training and dogs to people with seizures.