Emergency ‘Pet’-sonnel


Furry first-responders can alert others so epilepsy patients get help faster after a seizure begins. Seizure-response dogs are specially trained pups who live and travel with a person with epilepsy the way a guide dog does with the blind. Experts, such as David Spencer, M.D., a neurologist and specialist in epilepsy at Oregon Health & Science University, and Michael Doherty, M.D., a neurologist at the Swedish Epilepsy Center in Seattle, say these pets improve their owners’ quality of life. Both doctors say response dogs can be trained to get help when a seizure occurs, either by barking to alert family and neighbors, or in some cases by learning how to trigger an alarm that summons human emergency crews. Plus, just having the dogs around seems to make patients feel safer and lowers their stress levels, factors that can actually lower their risk of seizures, according to Dr. Doherty.