Epilepsy Ireland News

11-07-2017| Epilepsy Ireland supports new study on whether dogs can predict seizures

11 July 2017
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Epilepsy Ireland is delighted to be supporting new research study being undertaken at Queens University Belfast will examine whether dogs have the ability to predict epileptic seizures and if so how they might do this. The study is part of a PhD study being undertaken by Neil Powell, PhD student, and supervised by Professor Peter Hepper of the Queens University School of Psychology.

The research project is designed to increase our understanding of how a dog may alert to the onset of a seizure in its owner and use this to provide the individual with epilepsy with a means to identify the onset of a seizure and take appropriate action to control the situation. Elucidation of the cues used by dogs to the onset of a seizure, will lead to a greater understanding of canine alerting behaviour and so enable individuals to shape the behaviour of their dogs in a cost effective manner to reliably alert to seizure onset.

Properly trained seizure alert dogs would provide individuals with greater control over their lives and improve their physical and psychological well-being and potentially reduce the risk of physical harm and death. Further beneficial consequences would be an improvement in mental health and well-being, reduced feelings of anxiety and depression; increased opportunities for engaging in normal activities and thus a reduction of stigma and increasing social inclusion which can contribute to positive changes in public attitude; the possibility of improved management and treatment options.

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