The estimation of seizure frequency is a cornerstone of clinical management of epilepsy and the evaluation of new therapies. Current estimation approaches are significantly limited by several factors. Comparing patient diaries and objective estimates (through both inpatient video-EEG monitoring of and long-term ambulatory EEG studies) reveal that patients document seizures inaccurately. So far, few practical alternative methods of estimation have been available.
We review the systems of counting currently utilized and their limitations, as well as the limitations imposed by problems defining clinical events. Alternative methodologies that permit the volatility of seizure rates to be accommodated, and possible alternative measures of brain excitability will be outlined. Recent developments in technologies around data capture, such as wearable and implantable devices, as well as significant advances in the ability to analyse the large data-sets supplied by these systems have provided a wealth of information.
There are now unprecedented opportunities to utilize and apply these insights in routine clinical management and assessment of therapies. The rapid adoption of long-term, wearable monitoring systems will permit major advances in our understanding of the natural history of epilepsy, and lead to more effective therapies and improved patient safety.
aDepartment of Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne
bDepartment of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
cDepartment of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Correspondence to Mark Cook, MBBS, MD, Department of Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, 47 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, 3065 VIC, Australia. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org