This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from March 1 to March 31, 2017. Follow along!
For tech week, I wanted to highlight three epilepsy advancements in developing countries. The first one is enabled through technology, and the second and third are non-technological. Through my travels in Mahenge, Tanzania, I’ve personally witnessed all these advancements and it is my understanding these are now common in many developing countries.
Advancements in Mobile EEG
Imagine you are living with epilepsy in a rural area where there is little to no electricity and only the most basic healthcare. Imagine your doctor has little knowledge of epilepsy. These questions are pushing researchers to develop new technology that can help doctors diagnose and properly treat epilepsy in developing areas. Mobile EEG systems have been one of the most important advancements in rural healthcare for epilepsy patients. These EEGs aren’t the oversized machines recording data from hundreds of electrodes that I am accustomed to; instead there is a small number of electrodes that can easily attach to any computer loaded with the recording software. It could easily fit in a backpack for a doctor on the go. These mobile EEGs can also record and store data allowing professionals to decode at another location. Mobile technology has helped doctors around the world diagnose and treat patients with epilepsy and there is even early software to allow this decoding to happen with your iPhone.
Advancements in Water Tanks
Every year there are thousands of epilepsy deaths related to drowning. Like many other epilepsy patients, I am lucky to be able to take the necessary precautions to prevent such a tragedy, such as showering instead of bathing, swimming under supervision, and (this one may seem overtly obvious) having my drinking water out of a faucet. In many rural areas epilepsy patients aren’t able to take these precautions. Thankfully there are organizations helping epilepsy patients gather water in a safer way. Provision Charitable Foundations sponsored a project that made large watering tanks for those with epilepsy so they no longer needed to collect water from the river. These tanks not only provide bathing and cooking water, they also are connected to a sophisticated irrigation system. In the past, farmers would collect water from the river many times a day, and now they don’t need to take that risk.
Advancements in Mobile Ambulances
Technology and innovations can’t prevent all injuries caused by seizures but new tuk-tuk and motorcycle ambulances are helping patients get the urgent care they need fast. The tuk-tuk is an ambulance tricycle that is equipped with basic first-aid supplies. The tuk-tuk’s small size makes it easy to quickly navigate though traffic congestions. The motorcycle ambulance is equipped with basic first aid supplies and can reach the most rural areas to assist in emergency situations. Motorcycle ambulances have an attachable stretcher that pulls behind the bike on the ground. This won’t be the most comfortable ride to the hospital but it will certainly be the quickest! In rural areas where food is cooked over an open flame fire, epilepsy patients commonly suffer from severe burns and sometimes even death. Having quick access to emergency care is a must for epilepsy patients with life threatening burns.
Advancements in Diagnosis and Treatment
As the awareness of epilepsy continues to grow, so do advancements in the diagnosis and treatment. I’m very encouraged to learn that many of these innovations are seen across other developing countries and will continue to share as more arise!
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I’m Maureen, and I have epilepsy. You’re probably reading this because either you have epilepsy, or you love someone that has epilepsy. Whatever sparked your curiosity, I am happy to be sharing my experiences with you. From having seizures in foreign countries to begging pharmacists that don’t speak English for medication, I can definitely say that it’s been an interesting journey. Hopefully reading about my ups and downs, and my everyday and not so everyday adventures will inspire you too! Welcome to my life of living well with epilepsy!