How to Reduce EEG Artifacts during a Home Study
Decrease the amount of EEG artifacts while recording in any home
EEG artifacts can be a part of any EEG study. The beauty of a study done in the home is that you can capture a patient in their natural environment. They will experience stimuli that they experience on a daily basis. Their brain may react differently to sunlight shining in through a window or off a large screen TV near their bed, for example. It’s true that EEG studies done in the home can provide alternative insights as to what may cause seizures compared to those done in an epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) or clinical environment.
The risk, however, is that artifacts can appear on the study and obstruct the data that EEG technologists, physicians, and researchers so eagerly want to see. After all, the home is not a sterile environment. Take these steps prior to starting the study to ensure that artifacts are reduced as much as possible.
Check your impedances
Good connections are perhaps the most important way you can reduce artifacts on a recording. You want to have balanced impedances, which means that the impedance of the electrodes are approximately the same on all of the connections. Remember that common-mode rejection theory states that high or imbalanced impedances will increase the noise level and provide a poorer signal. Be sure to look at your ground and reference impedance. These electrodes are vital and are key to making sure your impedances are balanced.
Establish electronic isolation whenever possible
Reduce the risk of artifacts by isolating electronic components. If you need to plug a system into a home outlet, try to have it be the only electronic using the outlet. Other electronic signals can interfere with the quality of your recording, so wrap the electrode lengths with tape fully to minimize stray wires from picking up those signals.
While Bluetooth is an excellent way to capture data, you don’t want a house full of Bluetooth signals jamming up your recording quality. Ask patients or caregivers to turn off all unnecessary Bluetooth devices during a study, so that a study doesn’t have to happen more times than it’s needed.
Manage your equipment carefully
When you cannot control your environment as well as you would be able to in a clinic or hospital setting, you have to settle for what you can control: your equipment. After all, you have a job to do.
Place your equipment properly to get the most out of a study. Instruct the patient or caregiver to keep EEG recorders away from other electrical appliances when possible. Microwaves, TVs, gaming consoles, computers, and even phone chargers (the opposite side of a charger, too) can create artifacts. Keep electrical cords away from EEG system cords and electrodes while preventing them from overlapping. Use common sense and don’t let patients place their phones under their pillow when they sleep.
Beware of interference from unexpected places
You’re probably aware of electronic interference coming from the usual suspects. Are you frequently checking if interference isn’t coming from other sources?
Water can not only cause interference, but it can be a safety risk, depending on the equipment. Showering or bathing during a study is prohibited, among other activities. The patient also shouldn’t be fidgeting with their amplifier, head wrap, or electrodes in any way. When they think they aren’t being monitored they might create artifacts – even by accident. This goes back to having a quality headwrap as you begin the study. It can make such a big difference!
Pets can cause interference when they are being petted on a patient’s lap. Invisible fence collars or other electronic transmitting devices pets might be wearing could be an unexpected problem. They may not always be in the room, so remember to check before the study begins. Don’t let Fido be the culprit behind the unnecessary artifacts in your waveforms. Basically, if it’s an electronic device or can conduct electricity, consider the effect it could have on your EEG study.
Vigilance for EEG artifacts is always necessary
For the good of the patient and an accurate EEG recording, try to be proactive in reducing artifacts. Follow these standard procedures before any study begins.
This educational information is brought to you by Lifelines Neuro. See more of our helpful EEG resources.