Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Selfie" Epileptic Seizures

"There's a lot of data already about selfies being potentially dangerous in some circumstances because people don't think."
"There are even reports about people taking selfies while driving ... if you induced a[n epileptic] seizure behind the wheel, that would be a catastrophe, potentially."
Dr. Paula Brna, pediatric neurologist, Dalhousie University
Luca Bruno/AP
Luca Bruno/AP    Pope Francis poses for a selfie as he arrives at Milan's Linate airport, northern Italy, for a pastoral visit to Monza and Milan, Saturday, March 25, 2017.
The ego-boosting selfie so beloved of an ever-expanding range of people -- from politicians to celebrities, sport figures to performers, and the everyday public -- comes equipped with a not-so-innocent precaution: people susceptible to the effects of flickering light on the brain resulting in epileptic seizures had better set aside the ambition to take photographs of themselves at whimsically bored moments. Or even, come to think of it, as efforts to retain special moments photographically.

For the simple reason that the special moment not on the individual's thought-radar may turn out to be their last. Self-portraiture via smart phones and other types of digital photographic equipment that come so readily to hand are of particular danger as a trigger for seizures afflicting some epileptics.
A study of a case where a teen spent three days in a Halifax hospital hooked to an electroencephalogram monitored by camera to routinely assess her epilepsy revealed a surprise.

The camera verified what doctors suspected was the source of sudden bursts of action on the brain monitor, which typified epileptic seizures, matched against the bored teen taking selfies using an iPhone, sending the resulting photos of a head sporting Medusa-like electric leads, on to friends. An idle moment turned out to be a revelation which resulted in a paper published in the journal Seizure. Only one case, to be sure, but more studies will likely follow to validate the conclusions of this one.

Jeff Spicer/Getty Images
Jeff Spicer/Getty Images   Actor Tom Hiddleston takes a selfie with a fan at the Three Empire Awards on March 19, 2017, in London, England. 
The reason this is important is that the phenomenon has far-reaching consequences. People who have "photosensitivity", which is to say people who may suffer seizures on exposure to light flickering at specific frequencies, will be found to have experienced triggers through a hitherto-unsuspected source. And since many people use smart phones routinely, even when driving, being put out of executive function commission behind the steering wheel is pretty serious stuff.

Dr. Elizabeth Donner, head of the epilepsy program at Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto is of the opinion that though a fairly limited number of epileptics are photosensitive, the potential of incipient crises would call for counselling patients about such risks. Dr. Brna mentioned that observers were not quite certain whether it was the phone's flash or the pulsing red-eye-avoidance LED light which was responsible for the seizures.

A string of serious accidents have occurred while people taking selfies happened to be driving. Or not necessarily driving, but standing, for example at the edge of a sheer drop, or holding loaded firearms. Close to 150 deaths or serious injuries have been listed, connected with selfie-taking behaviour, between December 2013 and February of this year.

Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images
Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images    Members of Team Poland take a selfie after winning the Nations Cup of the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Planica on March 26, 2017.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet