Assistive Technologies for People with Epilepsy
Let us find out what epilepsy is and what are the technologies that can help people avoid or minimize the problems brought by its effects.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy refers to a group of disorders that causes disturbances in the brain’s electrical signaling.
Pulses of energy travel in the brain at a certain rate. During an epileptic seizure, these pulses of energy travel much faster for a specific period of time. Epilepsy may be caused by abnormalities in the brain, illness, and brain damage.
When experiencing an epileptic seizure, a person may have uncontrolled movements in specific parts of the body or the entire body. A person may have strange emotions, convulsions, and muscle spasms. Another result of epileptic seizures is a sudden change in a person’s state of consciousness.
A seizure is the most common symptom of epilepsy. However, not all seizures are caused by this brain disorder. Epilepsy is not a mental illness and it is not an indicator of intelligence.
Useful Devices and Products for People with Epilepsy
Here are common examples of devices and products that can help persons with epilepsy. These devices and products won’t help cure epilepsy. They are used in helping persons avoid seizures and in ensuring that they can still do their tasks after an epileptic seizure.
The following devices and products are categorized under the major issues faced by people with epilepsy.
Light Sensitivity and Audio Sensitivity
Flickering screens may cause seizures among persons with epilepsy. Flickering refers to an event where you can see the on-screen images fade before the screen is redrawn. It is mainly caused by low refresh rates in screens.
Flickering can cause eye strain and headaches among persons without epilepsy. However, it can have more severe effects on individuals that have this brain disorder. It is therefore recommended that persons with epilepsy use flicker free monitors. These are devices that ensure a high refresh rate to avoid screen flickering.
Monitor Glare Guards
Screen glare happens when light from a light source bounces on your screen. Similar to flickering, screen glare may cause seizures among persons who have epilepsy.
A monitor Glare Guard is a clear film that has a plastic frame. You place it on your computer’s monitor to avoid screen glare. In addition, a monitor glare guard removes some of the screen’s brightness, making it more comfortable for all users to look at the screen.
Browser Options for Animation and Audio
While people with epilepsy are browsing web sites, they may encounter pages that have blinking texts and animation that may trigger seizures. Sudden loud sounds and repetitive audio in some web pages can also cause epileptic seizures.
To help users avoid these contents, most browsers provide a feature that disables animation and audio in web sites. This eliminates the possibility of unexpected seizures from browsing certain sites.
Memory Deficits (May Occur After Seizures)
Auto-Dial Feature in Telephones
This is especially useful after a person has had an epileptic seizure and needs to call a doctor or anyone concerned. Rather than dialing the entire telephone number, the user can simply press one digit to make a call. If the person is able to speak, he or she can say the contact’s name to make the phone dial the desired number.
These devices can help a person to remember and continue certain tasks after an epileptic seizure. Information that can be stored in electronic organizers include sequence of tasks, important dates, a diary, and a calendar. Some organizers can also provide timers and sound alerts for each listed task.
Hearing and Communication Problems (May Occur After Seizures)
Picture Exchange Communication Systems
After an epileptic seizure, a person may have difficulty in speaking or hearing. Software applications for picture exchange communication enable the user to express certain needs by selecting and displaying images on screen. Others can then determine what the person wants and respond accordingly.
Again, the devices and products mentioned above are only examples of technologies for people with epilepsy. If you know any other similar technologies, please do let us know by leaving a comment below.