The history of the Medpage epileptic seizure movement detector


Medpage Limited T/A Easylink UK began trading in 1984 after the invention of an alarm clock to wake deaf people. After an introduction to a deaf lady in a residential home who proudly demonstrated her alarm clock, I realised that not only was it cumbersome and potentially dangerous, it was also potentially unreliable. The product consisted of a mains powered alarm clock, modified to produce an output at alarm time to switch power to a huge vibrating disk, positioned under her pillow. With all the wires, connectors and obvious discomfort of having this huge disk under her a pillow, I realised that a modern LCD clock could be constructed that contained everything needed to replicate her antiquated alarm. With RS components only down the road, it did not take long to design and make a prototype that actually worked. The product, first called Travel Mate was later branded as Shake Awake and was sold worldwide, at a price people could afford. The Shake Awake helped millions of deaf people live a more independent life as they had a means of reliably waking up in the morning for work.


The company also introduced the first wireless smoke alarm and wireless baby monitor for deaf people. Our expanding expertise in vibrating devices attracted the attention of a specialist epilepsy nurse, who obtained our details through the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID). We received an enquiry from her requesting a reversal of our vibration technology, detecting vibrations instead of creating them. Why was our question? It was then explained that one of her families has a daughter who was experiencing multiple epileptic seizures throughout the night, so bad in fact that the daughter (13 year old) had moved into bed with Mum and pushing out Dad into another bedroom. Can you do anything to help?

Not having much knowledge or experience of people having epilepsy, some major research was required. With the internet in its infancy and limited options where to obtain information from, the epilepsy nurse provided a detailed description of how seizures happen, what happens, and what would be required to detect them. After some major head scratching and team brainstorming, an idea came forth using our baby alarm for deaf people as the basis for design. The baby alarm detected sound only then transmitted an alarm signal to a vibrating pager. After some serious tweaking and tests, a prototype emerged.


The prototype was duly packed up and sent to the specialist nurse with a note saying, we do not expect this will be perfect first time so we expect there may be some to-ing and fro-ing until we get it right. Several weeks went by without hearing anything from the nurse. We had begun to think our box of tricks had ended up in a box never to be mentioned again. Out of the blue the nurse telephoned us to say the family had tested the alarm for a week, with mum and dad taking turns watching their daughter in her own bed, in her own room, throughout the night. They had then trusted the monitor enough, as it did detect her seizures, to try it out for real with our monitor, their daughter, in her own bed, without supervision. Sure enough the monitor detected her seizures and alerted the parents. The epilepsy nurse informed us that this new technology could help thousands of families and that she had told the Epilepsy organisations about our new invention. We named it the Medpage.


The Medpage was certainly a revelation back in 1995. There had been some crude methods of detecting epileptic seizures, or epileptic fits as many referred to. Some of them are quite comical, depending on your sense of humour. One in particular made me chuckle. With the old type sprung bed base, a hand bell was suspended from the bed springs by a length of cord. When the person had a seizure the rocking motion of the bed swung the bell making it ring. Another one, a little more advanced (slightly) used a swinging pendulum suspended from the bed connected to a mechanical buzzer. When the person experienced a seizure, the swinging action of the pendulum made contact with a switch making the buzzer sound. I have also heard stories of a length of string attached to some ones toe linked to another person. How technology has moved on.


Technology certainly has moved on. The Medpage (MP5) Epilepsy alarm for more than 20 years has provided a reliable method of detecting Tonic/Clonic (Grand Mal) epileptic seizures and has helped thousands of families manage epilepsy. We continually research new technologies and developments in research into epilepsy and work closely with a large number of epilepsy specialists. Medpage has recently (April 2013) introduced two new members to the Medpage seizure alarm family. The MP5V2, and the MP5 ULTRA. The MP5V2 uses new sensor technology combined with computer analytical software to determine if a person is having a seizure on their bed. The sensor, because of the computer, can be used with extremely high sensitivity levels that will detect seizure typical movement from babies and adults with mild seizure movement. The MP5 ULTRA is not generally available unless prescribed by a epilepsy professional.


We are the only company in the UK supplying systems to detect epilepsy seizure movement that are accredited by BSI to ISO 13485:2003. Google “ISO 13485:2003” to see how serious we take the design, manufacture, and quality of our products.


Over the years, our product ideas and designs have been copied, as you would imagine. When you copy something or someone you do not have the hindsight of invention or creation and so lose the ability to move forward. To be successful at anything you have to care about what you do, and we do. Despite the expensive annual maintenance costs of ISO 13485:2003, we always try to keep our seizure alarm products affordable by families. This we do and will continue to do so.


We hope we can be of service to and your family or you and your organization.


Mike Dines


Managing Director


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