A new seizure-monitoring baseball cap could help doctors diagnose patients with epilepsy more quickly and comprehensively. The innovation is called Epicap. It uses a small video camera built into the visor of the cap, to allow doctors to begin monitoring patients when seizures are suspected, rather than wait until they occur and are discovered in a traditional inpatient setting.

Epicap was designed and prototyped by Carle Illinois students Kenny Leung and Jennifer Cortes, in collaboration with students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Gies College of Business.

“Epicap is essentially an EEG (electroencephalogram) inside of a baseball cap. As soon as you have a seizure, a doctor can give you a cap to wear leading to faster diagnosis and monitoring,” Cortes explained.

Epicap incorporates the monitoring components – including the electrodes, wires, and video monitoring — inside a stylish baseball cap that can be worn virtually anywhere.  “Our goal in creating Epicap is to enable easier access for patients to be diagnosed in the comfort of their own homes and continue their daily activities,” said Leung.

The design includes future development of an artificial intelligence (AI) component that analyzes the patient’s brainwave record during monitoring, pinpoints abnormal activity, and connects to an AI platform (like a smartphone). “If the AI algorithm deems the logged ‘activity’ to be ‘seizure activity’, it connects to the cloud, and the patient’s doctor or family member is notified,” Cortes said. The AI component also allows for quicker diagnosis confirmation and treatment.

Patients undergoing assessment for possible seizures are often hospitalized for up to a week while their brainwave activity is recorded and then analyzed by an expert. Wired electrodes are attached to the patient’s scalp and video monitors are used to record the patient’s eye and limb movements to record signs of seizure activity. The process can be cumbersome, costly, and subject to scheduling backlogs that can delay treatment.

Epicap offers a newly engineered solution to this problem in healthcare identified by Carle Illinois physician innovators.

For patients already diagnosed with epilepsy, Leung says Epicap could be used as a portable in-home safety monitor that is less invasive than the whole-home camera systems that are currently in use.

The Epicap device is one of 13 Capstone Innovations proposed by the future physician innovators in Carle Illinois’ Class of 2022. In the final phase of Carle Illinois’ engineering-based, innovation-oriented curriculum, fourth-year students research a problem identified during their clinical rotations, propose a solution, and then work with a cross-disciplinary team, including engineering students from The Grainger College of Engineering, to develop a new prototype or process that will potentially change the practice of medicine and improve patient outcomes. M.B.A. candidate Jianju (Jay) Liu is assisting with an Epicap business plan. Faculty advisors include Dr. Fadi Mikhail of Carle Health and Electrical and Computer Engineering Teaching Assistant Professor Jonathan Schuh. Undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineering students Casey Bryniarski, Shiru Song, and Qihang Zhao all worked to develop a prototype for the Epicap device. The Class of 2022 will present their final project designs later in the Spring.

Capstone Innovations are supported by The Henry Dale and Betty Smith Family.