Published: 00:01, 21 September 2014
A potentially life-saving invention has been created by the family of a man with severe epilepsy.
Tom Perry has suffered from the rare Dravet Syndrome since birth.
The 20-year-old of Park Road, Marden, can experience up to 24 epileptic seizures a day, often while he sleeps, and the condition has left him with learning difficulties.
His parents were so worried about his overnight seizures that they rigged up CCTV in his bedroom to see how many fits he was having. They realised that the monitoring equipment in place was not always able to detect every seizure.
So father Adrian and brother Chris set up Staplehurst-based Adris Technologies and developed PulseGuard – an innovative sensor which is worn by epilepsy sufferers and transmits heart rate readings wirelessly to an iPhone app.
“Every parent with an epileptic child with symptoms like Tom’s will know that life can be very stressful and a constant worry, especially from very disturbed and sleepless nights" Dad Adrian
But getting from idea to invention wasn’t always smooth. After sending off a volley of emails to several app designers only one person got back.
He was a neuro-scientist in America who offered his help for free and Chris also learned the intricacies of developing an app.
Just as things were going well Adrian suffered a stroke in July which put back the release date.
Tom has used PulseGuard for two years and it has predicted every single fit. On two occasions it has alerted his family he is about to go into a one before it has actually started.
The device works by shining a light through the skin, with a sensor detecting blood flow and recording an exceptionally accurate heart rate reading.
If the heart rate rises significantly, which happens before a fit, an alarm is sounded on a smartphone or iPad.
It means people can reach those suffering from a seizure and monitor them much earlier.
Sister Kate said: “To make this happen my brother left his London IT job and I left the ambulance service and am currently not taking a wage.
“But it has ultimately pulled the family closer and we have worked through it to get to the stage where we are now.”
Following two years of development and clinical trials the product is set to launch on Monday.
Dad Adrian added: “Every parent with an epileptic child with symptoms like Tom’s will know that life can be very stressful and a constant worry, especially from very disturbed and sleepless nights.
"We are therefore delighted to be able to try and help many other families using our experience and research by making our invention available to them.”
Clare Harrisson of Young Epilepsy said: “We are very excited by the fact that PulseGuard has been developed by the parents of one of our students who has a particularly severe epilepsy syndrome, and the potential it has to detect seizures and therefore allow for prompt intervention.”
PulseGuard is available from www.adristechnologies.com