First of all lets start with some facts and what I am wanting to do.  We will discuss a few things and learn some more. But I guess I should talk about why I want to do this project in the first place besides the facts below.  Just over a year ago I decided to take a change in my work thinking its time to try something new.  So when the opportunity came up I decided to take the plunge.  Currently I am a service technician at a medical supply shop.  From sales to wheel chair and power chairs and scooter repairs to maintenance on oxygen machines to setting up and delivering hospital beds and lift chairs and helping those who need it.  It has certainly been a wild adventure of seeing what is currently on the market and what people need. Now with my mind set I always look at things and try to see how I could either make it or make it better.

So over the time I have been working in the medical supplies industry I have learned a lot and have a book just full of ideas, so I am sure more medical ideas will soon pop up on the community here from me over time.   I love seeing people gain a bit more independence when it comes to helping them as well as their comfort levels increase.   The amount of smiles I see in a day make it worth so much more to me.


Not to mention I have gotten tons of cookies and cake out of it too.   The power of actually caring shows in your work and you will be rewarded.  Take care of those around you.   Right now tho a lot of the facilities and homes are on a 4 week lock down due to covid around me so we have still been going strong and working with the facilities and homes to get our client what they need.   If its assisted living or full time care everyone should be able to have the basics they need for their day to day.


Now I am not an expert on the topic nor even a beginner.  This is purely based on lots of google research and my own opinions.  Please do not recreate this as a substitute for a commercially available device.

I will be working on this project while my Valley Forge - Project Paperinik is in the stages of growing and I really can't do anything but sit and wait and watch things grow.  So make sure to check that out in the 1m3 of pi design challenge.


As stated on


  • Epilepsy is a physical condition characterized by sudden, brief changes in how the brain works. It is a symptom of a neurological disorder - a disorder that affects the brain and shows itself in the form of seizures.
  • Epilepsy is a disorder, not a disease; it is not contagious.
  • Approximately 0.6% of the Canadian population has epilepsy. This includes those who take anticonvulsant drugs or who had a seizure within the past 5 years.
  • Due to the stigma surrounding epilepsy and the prejudice with which society has historically treated people with epilepsy, many with the disorder are reluctant to admit it or to seek treatment. Thus the prevalence of epilepsy is likely much higher.
  • Each day in Canada, an average of 42 people learn that they have epilepsy. Each year an average of 15,500 people learn they have epilepsy; 44% are diagnosed before the age of 5, 55% before the age of 10, 75-85% before age 18 and 1% of children will have recurrent seizures before age 14. 1.3% are over the age of 60. This means that about 60% of new patients are young children and senior citizens.
  • In approximately 50% of cases of childhood epilepsy, seizures disappear completely.
  • In 50 - 60% of cases, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. In the remainder, the following causes are most common: brain tumour and stroke, head trauma of any type. The more severe the injury, the greater the chance of developing epilepsy.  Injury, infection, or systemic illness of the mother during pregnancy, brain injury to the infant during delivery may lead to epilepsy and aftermath of infection (meningitis, viral encephalitis)* poisoning, from substance abuse of alcoholism
  • Events that may trigger seizures include:  stress,  poor nutrition,  flickering lights, skipping meals,  illness, fever and allergies, lack of sleep, emotions such as anger, worry, fear and others, heat and/or humidity.
  • The major form of treatment is long-term drug therapy. Drugs are not a cure and can have numerous, sometimes severe, side effects.
  • Brain surgery is recommended only when medication fails and when the seizures are confined to one area of the brain where brain tissue can be safely removed without damaging personality or function.


So this is just the facts for where I live, its pretty hard to ignore such statements and not be able to do anything about it or give options other then expensive alternatives that are already on the market for monitoring and warning of a possible seizure.


Another thing we will have to look at the actual different kinds of seizures there are and what we are wanting to detect.  Since I do not know the actual capabilities of this sensor it may or may not work but its the fact of learning and advancing my knowledge to hopefully help and possibly bring a bit of a alternative to the table.


Taken from   we will look at the differences here.


Major Types of Seizures



Seizures are classified into groups.

  1. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain.
  • Absence seizures, sometimes called petit mal seizures, can cause rapid blinking or a few seconds of staring into space.
  • Tonic-clonic seizures, also called grand mal seizures, can make a person
    • Cry out.
    • Lose consciousness.
    • Fall to the ground.
    • Have muscle jerks or spasms.
  • Simple focal seizures affect a small part of the brain. These seizures can cause twitching or a change in sensation, such as a strange taste or smell.
  • Complex focal seizures can make a person with epilepsy confused or dazed. The person will be unable to respond to questions or direction for up to a few minutes.
  • Secondary generalized seizures begin in one part of the brain, but then spread to both sides of the brain. In other words, the person first has a focal seizure, followed by a generalized seizure.

Seizures may last as long as a few minutes.


But we won't be looking at those I just wanted to make sure you got some education on the major types before we go ahead and talk about the main one we will be focusing on in our design challenge.


Now there is a bunch of devices out there for seizure detection be for people awake and walking around to those that are sleeping but can we replicate something like that which would allow us to prototype further? What results and reading would we see?  I would assume there would be a ton more raw data that could be used for a better understanding as well.




The one we will be concentrating on is Nocturnal Seizures. (which would fall under the tonic-clonic seizure)

During a nocturnal seizure, a person may:

  • cry out or make unusual noises, especially right before the muscles tense
  • suddenly appear very rigid
  • wet the bed
  • twitch or jerk
  • bite their tongue
  • fall out of the bed
  • be difficult to wake after the seizure
  • be confused or display other unusual behaviours after a seizure
  • wake suddenly for no apparent reason


So with Nocturnal seizures and the list of what may happen while someone is having a seizure we can start with being able to detect the movement in the person.  And if the sensor is good enough with a bit of modification hopefully we will be even able to detect ones heart rate and other data as well.  Now there is no way to  knock all of them off the shelf but we can get a majority of those taken care of with a few and then adding on in the future such as sound,  humidity and floor impact detection and so forth.


We will be focusing on the the twitch and jerk. Even those who don't have seizures will still produce data such as twitches and jerks so we will be attempting to monitor ones sleep through this.   I would fall off my bed with this test but I have the oddest feeling the cement floor wouldn't be soft enough.   So with that being said it gives me another Idea,  what about a fall mat that could also be attached to the unit. I know of no such product on the market that would detect this currently.   There is sensors to detect movement out of bed and so on but nothing directly to the impact on the mat.  would a person with a seizure still continue to have their seizure on the floor and not be noticed?  Adding something relevant  to it might just help.  Now I am not a person that has epilepsy or seizures but I know its more common then we all think.   A lot of people do not get diagnosed until they do fall and hurt themselves to a degree someone looks more closely at them.



Above is one of the sensors I had looked at prior for someone many months back which would have to be ordered in starting at around £539.00 this wasn't the ideal solution adding shipping then a bunch of other stuff on it soon got to be quite high in price.  That converts to just under a thousand dollars Canadian.  So when this design challenge came up it was a no brainier this is what I wanted to make, well something like it anyways.


This bed sensor system is designed to detect micro movements associated with tonic-clonic seizures. A large thin sensor mat is placed under the user’s mattress and will detect when a person has continued abnormal movements over a pre-set period of time and then raises an alert.

The Emfit Control Unit has a built-in audible alarm which will sound during a seizure which is ideal where a carer or parent is in the same room. You can also connect a pager or careline alarm to the Emfit epilepsy bed sensor.


if you want to have a closer look at the unit please feel free to check it out at


Now I know I probably won't be able to get an exact replica of what a seizure looks like but we will play around and maybe I can find some relevant data that might help as well along the way.  I do have a respiratory therapist at my work as well so maybe seeing what they can lend to the project to make it more authentic then not.


What I intend to do is come up with a system that will detect and alert the uncommon movements in sleep, since seizures will not be tested I will focus on the most common data from visual muscle twitches and jerks, adding on possible add-ons in the future would be fun to play around building a more diverse system.   Since there is so much we can do its best we just try to focus on a working under the bed mattress detection system that will relay irregular patterns to a remote device.


I have attached a document below that does cover a huge amount of Nocturnal Seizures and has provided me with a good starting point for my project.


Hope you learned something today and if not I hope you will soon enough as this should be a fun adventure with this project.