Tablet app developed by UTHealth researchers helping epilepsy patients curb seizures

A UTHealth team created Mindset to help people with epilepsy avoid seizures by looking for patterns that may trigger them
February 27, 2014 4:24:23 PM PST
A quiz on a tablet has turned one Houston woman's life around. She has epilepsy. From her answers, the new program developed by Houston researchers identified some things that were making her seizures worse. Now she is seizure free.

"I was missing medicines so frequently, and a pillbox made such a huge difference," said epilepsy patient Jennifer Renfrow.

Renfrow caught the problem through a new program for epilepsy patients called Mindset. And she's learned more.

"The Mindset study actually pointed out that I had a Vitamin D deficiency," she said.

That's why she kept getting sick. Mindset, a program developed for tablets by a UTHealth team, helps people with epilepsy avoid seizures by looking for patterns.

"We have preliminary evidence that when people go through Mindset over a series of two clinic visits, the number of risk factors, the number of behaviors that are not ideal, goes down," said Dr. Charles Begley with the UTHealth Mindset study.

And that can mean fewer seizures.

When Renfrow started the Mindset program a year ago, she was having five seizures a week. But the program helped her pick up some seizure triggers, and now she's been seizure free for six months.

Renfrow's neurologist Dr. Michael Newmark says it works because people are more honest when they answer questions on the tablet.

"I think we get better information this way, and this allows us to treat her better," Dr. Newmark said.

The Mindset program showed that her seizures increased with stress, lack of sleep and that her memory problems may be a medication side effect. Renfrow received an action plan with options for change. When the study is completed, the UT researchers hope to put Mindset on the web for all epilepsy patients.

"We think it can make a big difference," Dr. Begley said.

"The study has really given a lot of information in a short amount of time, and I wish I would have had it 20 years ago to start with," Renfrow said.

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