One of my Canadian buddies I met at World Parkinson Congress last October in Montreal recently sent me an email. She was forwarding a website about a shaky spoon, which I thought was pretty cool.
Huh? Shaky spoon? Well, any spoon in the hands of someone with a bad tremor is going to be shaky, to the point that getting the granola into your mouth becomes challenging. This “Liftware” spoon still shakes but it cancels the tremors, so that the net result is a spoon more easily directed towards your mouth. Take a look at the videos on the website and you’ll see the difference.
The website’s technical note explains: “Sensors in the Liftware handle detect a person’s tremor, and the device responds using motors to move the spoon opposite the tremor. The spoon can discern motion from hand tremor from other types of motion, allowing it to respond to just the tremor while preserving the user’s intended motion. In contrast to braces, which force a user’s hand to be still and can cause patient discomfort, Liftware allows the patient’s hand to shake while stabilizing food in the spoon.”
A few other interesting things:
–The firm that developed this product is a startup firm named Lift Labs in San Francisco. You view the picture of the principals and they look like the scruffy 20-somethings who are pulling down their first million after creating the latest social media app. How great these guys are actually developing something useful!
–They are listed as part of “Rock Health”. What’s this? Big Pharma? Nope, it’s a startup incubator. I love what Rock Health says on its website: “We are powering the future of health care….Join us and build something useful.” Who knows? The next Big Idea for Parkinson’s could come from a small organization.
–The people shown on the website using the Liftware spoon all have Essential Tremor, not Parkinson’s. Although Essential Tremor is quite different from Parkinson’s, it’s still useful for PD people to be aware of research and tools in other neurological movement disorders.
–I’d love for all PD research to be directed towards a cure, but in the meantime it’s great to have new tools to improve the quality of life with PD. While not everyone with PD has tremors (and not everyone with tremors has PD), it’s a frequent symptom. As for me, yes, I have a tremor in my right (dominant) hand, but it’s well under control with medication. I’m still several years (I hope) from the shaky spoon.