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Epilepsy Behav. 2005 Jun;6(4):620-2.

"Seizure-alert dogs": observations from an inpatient video/EEG unit.

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Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Studies have demonstrated that "seizure-alert dog" owners with epilepsy exhibit improvement in seizure rates. One of the most difficult aspects for patients with epilepsy is the unpredictability of seizures. We evaluated the detection abilities of seizure-alert dogs in an inpatient epilepsy care unit where patients were undergoing continuous computer-assisted EEG. Between March and May of 2004 we monitored two patients who owned "seizure dogs" in the Epilepsy Care Unit at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Both patients were accompanied by their "seizure dogs" during their admission, as the patients felt more secure with the dogs. The dogs' performance in alerting before a seizure was poor for patient 1 and misleading for patient 2. In our limited but objective experience, the "seizure dogs" were not as effective as previously thought in predicting the seizure activity. At the same time we must be fair and recognize the limitations that the environment of the Epilepsy Care Unit places not only on patients but also on seizure-alert dogs. Similar studies (in epilepsy monitoring units) of larger samples of patients are needed to determine if these trained dogs are responsible for clinical improvement in epilepsy patients.

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