Medical Disclaimer

Auditory and Visual Stimulation devices (AVS) or "Mind Machines" have been on the market for years. Thousands of users have logged many hours on them with virtually no reported ill effects. But there are some situations and conditions where use of our products is strongly discouraged. These devices create flickering light, which may cause seizures in persons with photosensitive epilepsy. You may be photosensitive and not know it, follow the links for more details.

Mind Stim products are designed for avocational and recreational purposes. No medical claims are made for Mind Stim products, express or implied. They are not medical devices and should not be used for the relief of any medical condition. Please consult with your licensed medical practitioner prior to use for any other purpose as the machine is not intended as a replacement for medical or psychological treatment. Our products are not intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body. These products are not approved for any purpose by the FDA.

If you, or anyone else who will use this machine, are subject to any form of seizures, epilepsy or visual photosensitivity, are using a pacemaker, suffering cardiac arrythmia or other heart disorders, currently taking stimulants, tranquilizers or psychotropic medications, specifically including illicit drugs and alcohol, please do not use our, or any other Auditory and Visual Stimulation device.

In addition, even if you have never had a seizure, there is a small chance that you are photosensitive, and exposure to flashing lights can cause a seizure. If you are not willing to accept this risk, please do not use Mind Stim Auditory and Visual Stimulation device.

Mind Stim Auditory and Visual Stimulation devices are based upon ancient understandings and modern research about how the mind interacts with certain types of pulsating light and sound patterns. Your experience should feel pleasant and we recommend that you set the volume and light intensity levels before you, or anyone you loan your system to, uses it.

Photosensitive Epilepsy

Photosensitive Epilepsy is a relatively rare condition, affecting approximately 1 person in 4000. Persons with this condition are susceptible to seizures evoked by flickering lights, such as those produced by a Auditory and Visual Stimulation devices. The information included here on photosensitive epilepsy is mostly from the book "Photosensitive Epilepsy".

Most persons with photosensitive epilepsy have a first seizure during their teenage years (75% by age 20). About half of initial seizures are induced by watching television. Some persons who are susceptible during their teenage years outgrow the condition, about 25% by age 25. As a result, adults over age 25 who have never had a seizure have about 1 chance in 20,000 of being photosensitive and not knowing it. So for a person who has not had a seizure, the likelihood of being photosensitive varies from 1 in 4000 for children to 1 in 20,000 for adults over 25. Even if you have never had a seizure, there is a small chance that you are photosensitive and a light/sound session could cause a seizure.

In spite of the more inclusive summary warning above, even if you have problems with epilepsy, there is only about a 5% chance that you are photosensitive. You may want to check with a neurologist to find out if you are photosensitive, you may be able to use Auditory and Visual Stimulation devices without seizure concerns.


Seizures and Epilepsy

Even if you have never had a seizure, there is a small chance as noted above that you are photosensitive and an Auditory and Visual Stimulation device or Mind Machine session could cause a seizure. What is a seizure? How is it related to epilepsy? How bad is having a seizure?

A seizure is a paroxysmal (sudden, spasmodic) self limited (stops by itself with no outside assistance) event caused by an excessive electrical discharge of the central nervous system. The most dramatic is the Tonic-Clonic (formerly called Grand Mal) seizure, usually characterized by falling, muscles stiffening, body extremities jerking and twitching for a small number of minutes, and temporary loss of consciousness. The seizure itself is usually harmless, with any injury coming from falling or hitting a hard object, although serious consequences including death are possible in unusual situations.

Isolated seizures are relatively common -- about 8.8% of the general population (1 person in 11) will experience a seizure at some point in their lives (although most seizures are not Tonic-Clonic). See First Aid for Seizures below.

Epilepsy is a condition characterized by recurrent seizures. The frequency of epilepsy is about 0.65% in the general population (1 person in 153). Thus epilepsy is much less common than isolated seizures, and a patient is usually not diagnosed as epileptic until a second seizure. See Treatment of Epilepsy below.

If you are in a safe place, seated or lying down, you have some protection from the major cause of injury from a seizure, namely falling and striking a hard object. Auditory and Visual Stimulation device or Mind Machine sessions should always be experienced while seated or lying down in a safe place, even after you are thoroughly convinced that you are not photosensitive. This assists the relaxation process as well as giving some protection from injury in the unlikely event of a seizure.

Treatment of Epilepsy

Drugs are available that reduce the frequency of seizures in persons with uncontrolled epilepsy. These drugs usually have undesirable side effects. Furthermore, initiating drug treatment and hence establishing the diagnosis of epilepsy will have significant consequences for a person's life. It may restrict their driving privileges and can eliminate them from consideration for certain jobs such as pilot, commercial diving, or commercial automobile. It can make obtaining health and life insurance difficult. It often attaches a social stigma, which can have profound negative effects on self-esteem and social opportunities. For these reasons, most neurologists and epileptologists (a neurologist with a specialty in epilepsy) are reluctant to diagnose epilepsy from a first seizure unless the risk of recurrence is high.

A person who has experienced a first seizure should be examined by a physician, to determine if any injury has occurred and if treatment for epilepsy is appropriate. Except in unusual circumstances (see First Aid for Seizures) it is not necessary or even desirable to visit an emergency room, it may be better to see a neurologist, preferably an epileptologist, as soon as possible. The neurologist will conduct several tests to see if there is any underlying cause for the seizure that should be treated, or if it was just an isolated seizure triggered by the flashing lights. If flickering lights and photosensitivity was the cause of the seizure, then the patient knows he/she should avoid flickering lights in the future. However, it is likely that no other life style changes will be required, and the diagnosis of epilepsy is not appropriate (see reference 1, page 139). If you or anyone you know has a first seizure while using an Auditory and Visual Stimulation device or any other Mind Machine, and drugs are prescribed without finding an underlying physiological cause for the seizure, you may want to get a second opinion.

In some states (currently California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Pennsylvania), a physician examining a person who has epilepsy is required to report to the department of motor vehicles, and the individuals drivers license may be taken away until the doctor reports that the individual can drive safely. This is another reason to avoid emergency room physicians, many of whom are not sure of how to deal with seizures, and who may diagnose epilepsy just to play it safe.


First Aid for Seizures

This material is from "The Epilepsy Handbook", copied by permission. These procedures are for Tonic-Clonic (formerly called Grand Mal) seizures, the kind most commonly caused by photosensitivity.

During the Seizure: The person may fall, become stiff and make jerking movements. The person's complexion may become pale or bluish.

  • DO help the person lie down and put something soft under the head.

  • DO remove any eyeglasses and loosen any tight clothing.

  • DO clear the area of sharp or hard objects.

  • DO NOT force anything into the person's mouth.

  • DO NOT try to restrain the person. You cannot stop the seizure.

After the Seizure: The person may awaken confused and disoriented.

  • DO turn the person to one side to allow saliva to drain from the mouth.

  • DO arrange for someone to stay nearby until the person is fully awake.

  • DO NOT offer the person any food or drink.

Calling for Help: (Usually not necessary)

Call 911 or the local police if:

  • The person does not start breathing within 1 minute after the seizure ends (begin mouth to mouth resuscitation).

  • A generalized tonic-clonic seizure lasts more than 2 minutes.

  • The person has one seizure right after another.

  • The person is injured.

  • The person requests an ambulance.

References

  1. Harding and Jeavons, 1994, "Photosensitive Epilepsy", London, MacKeith Press

  2. Gumnit, 1995, "The Epilepsy Handbook, The Practical Management of Seizures", New York, Raven Press Ltd.