Medical student designs seizure alarm system out of love for his grandma ... and for just US$75

Invention comprises a mouthpiece and phone app that alerts family members and records vital information

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 2:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 4:06pm

A medical student from east China whose grandmother suffers from seizures has designed a monitoring and alarm system that he hopes will one day allow her and his family to sleep more easily at night, local media reported.

The inspiration for the system came when Yin Xu, a 22-year-old student at Nanjing Medical University in Jiangsu province, experienced his grandma having a seizure while he was staying with her over the Lunar New Year holiday, Shanghai-based news website Thepaper.cn reported on Monday.

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The woman, who was not named, has seizures about once a month and generally at night. While the incidents are not usually harmful in themselves, Yin was concerned that if his grandmother had one when she was alone no one would know about it and she might hurt herself.

After trying in vain to find a “seizure alarm” online, he decided, with the help of four of his fellow medical students, to build his own, the report said.

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The result is a silicone mouthpiece that is designed to be worn over the teeth during sleep. When the patient grinds their teeth during a seizure, a circuit is completed and an alarm sounds. The design is such that it also prevents the patient from biting his or her tongue during a seizure.

As well as the alarm, the system collects information about the duration and timing of each seizure via a mobile phone application, which can be added to a patient’s medical records, the report said.

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Yin and his team taught themselves all the skills they needed to produce both the mouthpiece and the app, and after two months of design and development – and an investment of just 500 yuan (US$75) – they released their prototype in June, the report said.

While Yin’s grandmother has yet to try out the new system – he said he wants to refine the design – he has applied for a patent and is talking to manufacturers about going into production.

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Most seizures last for between 30 seconds and two minutes, but those that extend beyond five minutes can be serious and merit investigation. As a fail-safe against false alarms, Yin said his device was programmed not to sound the alarm or begin monitoring until the mouthpiece had been closed for at least eight seconds.