Saturday, December 17, 2005

Seizure Alert Dogs

Even from far across a room, seizure-alert dogs seem to be able to pick up on extremely subtle physiological changes - minute alterations in odour or movement - that may begin anywhere from 45 to five or 10 minutes before an actual attack. "More research needs to be done," Arnold said. "We don't exactly know right now what the dogs are responding to."

But their ability to sense these changes for their owners can be invaluable, since early warning of a seizure's onset helps people with epilepsy find a safe environment or take precautionary measures.

The Labradors and retrievers trained by the experts at Alpharetta, Ga.-based Canine Assistants begin their 18 months of instruction at just 2 days of age, learning over 90 standard commands. More mysteriously, some protective measures seem to come to the dogs by instinct, Arnold said. For example, when sensing an oncoming seizure, "they tend to want their person to lie on the ground," she said.

As any person with epilepsy will tell you, that's about the most sensible action an individual can take before a seizure, since falling is the leading cause of serious injury during an attack.

No comments: