Lifewatch: Seizure dogs

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - There are dogs who are specially trained to assist people who have epileptic seizures.

America's interest in seizure dogs began when a woman with epilepsy got involved in a prison project that focused on dogs.

She discovered that one of the dogs seemed to know when she was going to have a seizure.

Ben is a dog who has been trained to assist her owner, Colise Johnson, and perhaps one day save her life.

"Having epilepsy and cerebral palsy is kind of like having a non-stop roller coaster ride cause you never know what's going to happen, but with him he slows the ride down so it's manageable," said Colise.

Colise attended a training camp at Canine Assistants in Alpharetta, Georgia.  The group provides 80 service dogs a year, free of charge, to people with a variety of medical conditions, including epilepsy.

"When a dog leaves here the dog will have had training in how to respond should their person have a seizure," said trainer Jennifer Arnold.

Though Jennifer helps train the dogs, she said no one really knows what alerts the animals.

"They tend to get very restless, distressed if they were lying down they tend to get up and start whining," said Jennifer.

Dogs who go through the training sessions are able to give warning as much as 15 to 45 minutes before the actual seizure occurred.

No particular breed was better at sensing an oncoming seizure than any other.

For more information about seizure dogs, click here.

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