KARACHI: An experienced dog trainer in Northern Ireland has detected a potentially life-saving way of shielding epileptic people from dreaded seizures, according to the BBC.
Neil Powell, from the seaside resort town of Newcastle, has been awarded a PhD after research he led at the Queen’s University Belfast showed dogs can predict epileptic seizures and warn owners, says a report on the BBC’s website.
Mr Powell, 75, has worked at disaster sites around the world with his sniffer dogs since he trained as a search and rescue dog handler in the mid-1970s.
His dogs found many missing people and recovered bodies at major earthquakes in Algeria and Pakistan and from the 1988 Lockerbie air disaster.
“Mr Powell… has now turned his attention to another potentially life-saving use of the powerful sense of smell possessed by pet dogs,” said the website.
Neil Powell’s canines found missing people and recovered bodies after quakes in Pakistan, Algeria
According to the report, dogs in Mr Powell’s study reacted to an odour associated with seizures and then tried to “warn” their owners by grabbing their attention.
During the study, an epileptic woman said she noticed how her dog used to come close to her some 15 minutes before a seizure and just stare at her. Ultimately, she realised that it was her pet’s way of trying to warn her of the coming fit.
“Karen Browne, from County Galway… said scientific evidence that her dog was giving her a 15-minute warning of an impending seizure was a great comfort,” said the report. “I am enormously grateful to have a pet dog that can do something that extraordinary.”
Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2021