First clinical results of a project with dogs predicting epileptic seizures confirm the improvement in the quality of life of families
The team of researchers of the University of Alicante presented the data in the 4th Conference of the Spanish Society of Epilepsy (SEEP) held in Madrid
Images of families with dogs that help reduce and predict epileptic seizures
Alicante. Thursday, 09 November 2017
University of Alicante researchers presented the first clinical data on the impact of the alert dog of epileptic seizures on the quality of life of families with epileptic patients. The results were made public at the 4th Conference of the Spanish Society of Epilepsy (SEEP) held in late October in Madrid.
This pioneering research project, which has been led by the UA since 2016, reveals how the economic and emotional impact, as well as the family burden and uncontrolled seizures affect 70% of the families with patients with epilepsy. In this sense, the ‘seizure alert dog’ reduces anxiety and stress in the family, as well as fear of unpredictability seizures and their consequences.
According to UA researchers, alerting of a seizure in advance provides security and autonomy to the patient, and therefore to the family by increasing the patient’s autonomy and guaranteeing minimum consequences. As for the seizure alerts, disobedience with excitement and nibbling —which often comes together with licking the patient’s hands and mouth— seem to be the most common indications.
In short, the tests achieved in this confirm the positive influence of training dogs for the detection of crises in both the affected and the quality of life of their families.
The data exposed at the SEEP scientific conference by lecturer Carmen Carretón, Rosa María Martínez and José Ramón Martínez (University of Alicante; by Dr. Alejandro García (Hospital Levante IMED); by occupational therapist Begoña Celdrán (Teranimalia), and by trainer Miguel Martínez (ACEA Adiestradores) reveal benefits that seizure alert dogs are giving to the families participating in this project.
For this purpose, the methodology applied is based on the self–administered surveys to the members of the 8 participating families (with 5 male and 3 females with epilepsy) about the level of concern of the different aspects affecting their quality of life in the most immediate environment. These values are measured by a Likert scale in three phases of the families' experience: when the disease starts, during its evolution and control, and after the dog has been trained. Also, Goldberg’s sub-scales of depression and anxiety are applied before and after having the dog at the homes of all families.
Next step: Official dog certification
The University of Alicante research team continues to explore the work that these dogs are doing for patients with epilepsy and their families. "Providing evidence of the dog seizure alert before it takes place is key. For the time being, we are waiting for the official certification of dogs and this way we can address the third phase of the project consisting of the patient's hospitalisation with their dog. This would be a 24-hour stay in the monitoring room with an electroencephalogram video from the Imed Levante Hospital in Benidorm ", as stated by director of the project Mª Carmen Carretón, from the UA Department of Communication and Social Psychology.