Find piece of mind if you have a loved one who experiences seizures

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Give Me the Mike received promotional consideration from Empatica.

In December 2014, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I was 28 years old. There was no family history of epilepsy — or seizures — in my family. It all came as a surprise.

From what I am told, my first two grand mal seizures happened within minutes of each other. I never remember much from when they occur. The first seizure was along the side of a highway. Fortunately, I was not driving. I was working, and a coworker noticed that something was definitely wrong. My speech was off and I was not acting like my normal self. She decided to bring me to the hospital. It was in the car ride when it happened. The second seizure was the same day in the emergency room.

After my epilepsy diagnosis, I was put on medication, but the constant fear that I could have another seizure lingered. Sure, it’s a thought you can suppress, but it’s always there.

In April 2018, I had another seizure. This time, I was living on my own. It was a Monday, and I didn’t report to work. My coworkers started to call me out of concern and heard my delayed speech. They also heard a thump, which was me hitting the floor in the bathroom. Once my coworkers and paramedics were able to get inside my apartment, they found me unconscious on the bathroom floor from a concussion.

Tests were conducted and drug dosage increased. But another change needed to happen. My risks associated with having another seizure while living independently are high. It could be hours — maybe even days — before someone found me after a seizure.

Adults and kids who experience seizures need a reliable system to let loved ones know when they need attention. The Embrace Watch by Empatica offers that peace of mind.

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The Embrace Watch. Photo courtesy: Empatica

The FDA-cleared watch can detect generalized tonic-clonic seizures. It’s worn on the wrist, just like a regular watch. Once it detects a seizure, it will notify pre-selected caregivers by text message and phone call. It charges just like a smart watch does and has a battery life of over two days after being plugged in for 30 minutes. The Embrace is intended for those ages 6 and older.

I tried the Embrace out. The phone app, which is compatible on iOS and Android devices, allows you to add and change caregivers easily. There are other features the app can do, but honestly, it’s nothing that the Health app on the iPhone doesn’t offer.

You do need a written prescription to get the Embrace. There’s also a cost for the watch itself. The Embrace is $249 and you will also need to pay for a subscription plan, which starts at $9.99 a month.

Similar to the new Apple Watch, the Embrace has a bottom cover with exposed electrodermal activity (EDA) electrodes and vibe motor. Click here for more about how the Embrace functions and how it can sensor a seizure.

I stopped wearing the Embrace due to one major flaw — the watch kept thinking I was having seizures when I was just fine. If I would wave my arm around or startle the watch, it would go off. If the Embrace thinks you are having a seizure, you have to grab your smartphone, open the app, and cancel the seizure — all within 15 seconds. And good luck getting to your phone if it is in the other room. If you don’t get to your phone in that time, your caregivers will receive an alert. You obviously can still contact them that you’re okay. However, I found my self scrambling dozens of times to find my phone to turn off the function. My caregivers would get concerned every time they got an alert — even if it was a false alert. It started to turn into the fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” — and that was when I took the watch off for good.

I appreciate what the Embrace does, and I want to let people know that this watch exists. I have since purchased a new Apple Watch, which has similar capabilities. I have experienced two false Apple Watch seizure alerts, compared to dozens with the Embrace.

I would love to hear stories from those who live with epilepsy and how you keep your independence. Feel free to connect with me below.

To learn more about the Embrace by Empatica, click here.

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