Are you thinking of buying an epilepsy bracelet? Many people with seizure disorders choose to wear epilepsy bracelets, to let other people know about their condition when they’re unable to speak for themselves during (and after) a seizure.
Let’s learn about the different kinds of epilepsy medical alert bracelets that are available, how they work, plus some of their advantages and limitations.
What is an epilepsy bracelet?
Epilepsy bracelets are a form of medical ID jewelry that is typically worn on your wrist (though they can be worn around your ankles too). They use words and symbols to alert medical staff (particularly ambulance workers) that you have epilepsy. During seizures - and often in the posti-ictal period after a seizure - people with epilepsy may be unable to respond or provide clear information about their condition and needs. Having an epilepsy medical alert bracelet on can help first responders to provide the most appropriate care.
Medical staff are trained to look for medical ID and bracelets when patients can’t speak for themselves. According to one survey (in the UK), 97% of ambulance workers said they search for medical ID jewelry when treating unresponsive patients. There is no standard way for designing medical alert bracelets, but it is very common for them to have the ‘snake and staff’ symbol on them. This alerts first responders that you have been diagnosed with some kind of medical condition.
Epilepsy bracelets - from simple to sophisticated
There are many different kinds of epilepsy medical alert bracelets out there, from very simple silicon wristbands, right through to internet-connected devices that give first responders a link to your medical records. Here are a few of the options available:
- Generic epilepsy medical alert bracelet
The most basic options tend to be silicone wristbands. These usually can’t be customized, and simply have a word like ‘Epilepsy’ written on them. Examples include the MediBand epilepsy wristband (priced $8.20 at the time of writing), or the MediMates Wristband for kids ($7). Walmart offers a range of generic wristbands too, with silicon and metal wristbands carrying words like ‘seizures’ or ‘seizure disorder’, with prices ranging from around $10 up to $55.
- Customizable epilepsy bracelets
If you want an epilepsy bracelet that contains more information, then there are several companies that allow you to print your own message onto the wristband ( space is obviously limited to a couple of words). One example is a company called ReminderBand, who allow you to print words on the outside and inside of a wristband (starting from around $4.00 for a single band).
- Engraved medical epilepsy bracelets
If you want to include more information on your epilepsy bracelet, some companies allow you to engrave useful information onto a bracelet, including details such as your seizure disorder, phone numbers, information on allergies, and even QR codes which have links to more information. Divoti is one company offering this service - their engraved medical bracelets start from around $40.
- Epilepsy bracelets with paper inserts
If you want to provide more information to first responders, you might want to choose a bracelet that has space to carry a small paper slip that includes additional information about your condition and how to provide treatment. One example is this stainless steel compartment ID bracelet, which costs $19.95 from Elegant Medical Alert.
- NFC epilepsy bracelets
The most technologically advanced epilepsy medical alert bracelets use ‘near field communication’ (the same tech used in your credit card for contactless payments). If a first responder sees you are wearing an NFC medical bracelet, they may be able to hold their phone close to it, and access far more information about your condition.
There are various companies offering this sort of product, and some have a subscription service, where you pay for them to store your data. Prices vary, but the least expensive can cost as little as $20.00 - such as the EndlessID wristband on Amazon.
What information should you include in an epilepsy bracelet?
If you’ve chosen an epilepsy bracelet where you can add your own information, then you might be wondering what to include. It’s always worth speaking with your doctor - they can tell you what’s most important for your specific situation. That said, it can be useful to include:
- Your name
- Which kind of epilepsy you have
- At least one telephone number for a family member
- If there’s space, information on your medication and allergies
- Again, if there’s space, you might want to include a few words about what not to do if you’re having a seizure. For example: “do not put anything in my mouth”.
Learn more: Seizure first aid
Can you get epilepsy bracelets for free?
You may be able to request a free epilepsy bracelet from:
- Your local hospital
- Your local Epilepsy Foundation
- Epilepsy non-profits
- Epilepsy centers
Advantages and limitations of epilepsy bracelets
It’s worth thinking about the pros and cons of choosing to wear an epilepsy bracelet.
Benefits of epilepsy bracelets
- Peace of mind: It’s more likely medical professionals or people in the street will understand what’s happening if you have a seizure in public.
- Helps first responders: It means they can spend less time working out what’s wrong, and more time caring for you.
- May help avoid first aid errors: If your epilepsy bracelet includes information about how to care for you when you’re unresponsive, it may mean people don’t make first-aid errors (such as putting something in your mouth).
Limitations of epilepsy bracelets
- Lack of standards: There is currently no standard information or designs to include on epilepsy medical bracelets. This means information may be represented in different ways, which can make them hard to understand.
- May be unclear: Particularly with simpler wristbands, the lack of information can be confusing for medical staff. For example, if a wrist band just says ‘seizures’, that doesn’t tell other people very much. In the worst case scenario, it could also lead medical staff down the wrong path - someone who has epilepsy might be having a stroke, but if their wristband just says ‘seizure’, then emergency responders could mistake the stroke symptoms for a seizure.
- Stigma: Sadly, people with epilepsy still face prejudice. Wearing a wristband that states you have the condition could mean some people treat you differently.
For many people, wearing an epilepsy bracelet just makes sense. If you’re unsure what to include on yours, what kind to wear, or if it’s even right for you, it’s always worth speaking to your treatment team for extra advice.