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Pattaya Daily News

14 July 2010 :: 15:07:51 pm 31049

Seizure Response Dogs for Epileptics

Epilepsy is a common neurological illness with over 50 million people worldwide who suffer with the condition. Only a percentage of cases are drug controlled leaving the rest living with the worry of an attack that can strike at any time without warning.
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Place yourself in a position where you cannot take a bath/shower, cook a meal or go out shopping without supervision.  It is not good as you lose your independence and privacy as well as being refused certain jobs with restrictions on top of all this as to where you can go for fear of injuring yourself or someone else, you are even forbidden to drive any type of vehicle.

For years, dogs have been used for leading the blind, helping with the deaf as well as the usual guarding property and assisting the police in the line of duty, sniffing out bombs and drugs. Over the last two decades, a new service animal has emerged, ‘Seizure Alert Dogs’ or ‘Response Dogs’, that appear to have this remarkable ability to know something will happen before it does that sets them apart from other service dogs.

Seizure alert dogs are trained to warn epileptics of oncoming attacks before it actually happens, this can be minutes or even hours before it occurs, allowing the person to find a safe place or call for help.

How an oncoming seizure in a human is detected by the dog is a mystery with some researchers believing the dogs are able to detect subtly changes in human behavior before an incident happens though there have been no scientific studies to prove this theory.

Each dog that is trained in this task is done so to support everyday tasks that would be otherwise impossible for its owner to undertake and are tailored to the individual owner’s needs enabling them to have more independence in life.

The dogs vary in breed and size, ranging from the smallest to the largest, from pedigree to cross breeds, from donated to rescues centers.  There are certain breeds that are unfortunately not suitable for this kind of work. These are dogs bred for guard duty or a tendency to chase things.

Seizure dogs not only warn their owners of an oncoming seizure, they also help and protect them during and after a seizure have occurred.  Some dogs will alert people in the vicinity or family members who can be a great help. When on their own, the dog will lie next to their owner until they have regained consciousness, though in few cases, the dog has been known to panic and also die of the stress.

During an episode of a spasm known as absence seizures, a dog will prevent them from running into things by leading them to safety. Some have been trained to call the emergency services on a special phone.

In the past, there were many reports from dog owners that their dog had forewarned them of an oncoming seizure with some dogs pulling on the clothing for the owner to lie on the floor and some even fetching a pillow.

These service dogs have been found to have a 90 percent accuracy rate regardless of type of seizure, gender or age of their owners and where the dog is not always responsive, the owner reports they suffer less stress and feel less vulnerable just knowing the dog is with them.

Myfanawy Evans

Photo : Internet   Category : Society

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