After the general success of Epilepsy Awareness month and our own efforts raising funds on Purple Day we thought it would be a great idea to share with you Alert-iT’s roots. It’s really a great story.
But whilst we have your attention, don’t forget that just because March is over it doesn’t mean you cannot still do your bit by supporting one of the epilepsy charities that continue to raise both awareness and funds all year long.
In The Beginning
The twisting path leading to the development of a sophisticated range of support monitors supplied by Alert-iT began back in 1992. David, who at the time volunteered for REMAP, a fantastic charity working through a nationwide network of dedicated volunteers who aim to help people with disabilities to achieve much-desired independence in many aspects of their lives, was tasked with a challenge.
A local mum in Hinckley wanted a device to alert her when her daughter, Jessica, was having a tonic/clonic seizure at night.
At that time David knew nothing of epilepsy but fortunately did know a thing or two about electronics having designed all the control systems for the tilting Advanced Passenger train and many pressure control & measuring products. So having adapted a sensor he read about in Practical Wireless (how old is this guy!) to detect bed movement, added a small microcomputer to determine if the pattern could be a seizure and coupled in a cheap wireless doorbell; he had the fundamental nocturnal seizure detector.
This was used by Jessica until in 2010, when she was given an up to date, manufacturer version by David (as seen on Midlands Today TV and in the local press). Jessica’s mum claims even the crude prototype saved Jessica’s life on more than one occasion.
A Wider Need
While David cannot claim to be the inventor of the nocturnal bed movement detectors for use in supporting Epilepsy (did you know that the Victorians used to fit a bell onto the bed head for this purpose), it must have been one of the first electronic versions.
It soon became apparent to us that there was a wider need for this device but David was not happy with using a simple doorbell which could easily fail to ring for such as health critical application. So, he set about designing a failsafe radio technology. The existing techniques were totally inappropriate as they were short range and power hungry. Therefore David ended up developing his own protocol that achieves 450-600m range with a 11 thousandths of a second transmission time using a tiny button cell battery, compared to 100-200m and over 2 seconds for most Telecare products.
The first commercial products using this failsafe radio were available in 1996 and call Malf-iT; as in those dark non-PC days the tonic/clonic seizure was called Grand Mal. The product was sold by an agent called Aremco who specialises in supporting Epilepsy and many testimonies were received that confirmed it saved lives and brought peace of mind to the carers.
To This Day
Practical Electronics derived sensor remains unbeatable in its ability to pick up seizure movements anywhere in a double bed, while rarely causing false alarms.
We can certainly vouch for these fantastic products, whereby assistive technology is the perfect solution for monitoring risks and activities for those with epilepsy. They are both reliable and robust and since their inception all those years ago have continued to provide peace of mind for both those with epilepsy and their careers.
Further Help and Support
Make sure you keep an eye out for our next blog post telling the story of a Malf-iT saving the life of a young boy and thus initiating what is now one of the most prestigious epilepsy charities in the UK offering monitors to families.
For additional help, advice and support regarding assisted technology products or specific requirements for you contact the team on 01530 239 900 who are on hand to help.