An interview with neurologist Dr Elisa Bruno

Dr Elisa Bruno is a neurologist and the lead researcher for the RADAR-CNS Epilepsy study at King’s College London.  Her role within the project includes obtaining ethical approval for the study to participants enrolment, data collection and analysis.  

Can you give an overview of your career and what brought you to the RADAR-CNS project?
I graduated from the University of Catania, Sicily, where I also completed my training in Neurology, in parallel with a Masters Degree in Neuroepidemiology at the University of Limoges, France.

My interest in Neurology, Neuroscience and research has guided my career planning since the very first years of medical school. At that time, I found the possibility to acquiring and monitoring signals from the brain through electroencephalography (EEG) extremely fascinating and I decided to further focus on epilepsy during my education.

I then moved to the UK and joined a fellowship in the Epilepsy Unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals.  I acquired a more comprehensive view on EEG and epilepsy, and my engagement with patients greatly enriched my knowledge on this condition. Most people with epilepsy also suffer a range of related problems of variable severity, defined co-morbidities, as well as undesirable social impact and consequent stigmatization. Seizures may not be the main determinant of quality of life and co-morbidities play an important role as predictors of global wellbeing.

My desire to focus more on the development of technological solution aimed at assessing these aspects brought me to King’s College London and to RADAR-CNS. Developing a research based on a continuous measurement of physiological parameters has the potential to provide a complete picture of an individual condition at a level of detail which was previously unachievable. RADAR-CNS has the potential to open the door to a new way of using and providing care to patients, improving patients’ quality of life and potentially revolutionise the future of the healthcare system.

What do you enjoy the most about your work on the project?
RADAR-epilepsy is an ambitious,  innovative, collaborative project and the team’s efforts is key to its success. This project brings together experts from diverse fields including clinical research, engineering, computer science and technology, data analytics and I find working in such a vibrant environment extremely enriching.

What is the importance of the project for the wider field of wearable devices?
I think that the RADAR-epilepsy impact in the field of wearables and of epilepsy is related to two potential achievements: one, providing an accurate tool for seizures counting, which is paramount for seizure management and control and two enabling real-time seizure warning to improve patients safety.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work or life?
As with many other colleagues across  the world, I’m currently working remotely. The circumstances of the pandemic have once more highlighted the importance of out-of-hospital patient monitoring in epilepsy. It is paramount to find innovative, safe and reliable ways to monitor and manage patients at home. Our study could provide important new tools and represent a step forward to achieve this goal.   

Our RADAR-epilepsy team is more motivated than ever. We have recently published two papers in the journal Epilepsia.

The first is a review titled “Seizure detection at home: Do devices on the market match the needs of people living with epilepsy and their caregivers?” . In this paper we  reviewed the evidence on the needs and preferences of our participants  and provided an overview of currently marketed devices for seizure detection.

In the second paper we explored the use of wearable sensors in the identification of phenomena that have been associated with potentially life-threatening complications and with sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). The title is “Post-ictal accelerometer silence as a marker of post-ictal immobility” and it is currently in press.  

We are also busy setting up the second phase of our project, during which we will be monitoring people with epilepsy in their home environment.