A smart spoon help’s Parkinson’s Disease patients

Soup

When we get old the last thing we like is to be called ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled’. But for some of us this is a reality. For a few us this reality is called Parkinson’s Disease, affecting over 10 million people worldwide.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, long term movement disorder, where symptoms continue and worsen over time. It affects those mostly above 60. PD is linked to the loss of the dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. Diagnosis of not done via a lab but rather by clinical observation. The main features of are:

  1. Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  2. Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  3. Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  4. Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

A cause or cure is currently unknown, and the best treatment options we have are medication and surgery to manage its symptoms. In this article lets explore a new addition to this regime: assistive technology.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease

More than ever, We have a lot of people typing away on their computers in their offices, homes and on the move. This got Ian Butterworth, an M+ Vision fellow (part of Madrid-MIT M+Vision Consortium) thinking. So did his colleagues, Luca Giancardo, Alvaro Sanchez-Ferro, and Carlos Sanchez Mendoza along with Jacob Hooker, an associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School. And what did they come up with? An algorithm which allows us to detect Parkinson’s Disease by analyzing keystrokes. In their initial study of a over a 21 Parkinson’s patients and 15 healthy subjects suggest that there is greater variation in the keystrokes of Parkinson’s patients than in control subjects. The best part is this has been designed as a web plugin software which I am sure will be validated with more subjects in the future.

Drinking soup with spoon tech!

drdigible

© Liftware

As you may understand by now, holding a hand steady to drink a spoon of soup is a massive challenge for PD patients and those with essential tremors. (Yeah I know, I’m counting my blessings too). Thanks to the makers of Liftware, they now can do it with ease!

The technology is simply this: Liftware is a smartspoon (never thought I would say that) which uses stabilizing technology to keep your spoon stable, correcting the many shakes and shivers of these patients. They state “Liftware automatically stabilizes and shakes 70%* less than your hand”. To see if you need this technology you can download their tremor check sheet which gauges how much tremor you have if this technology is suitable for you.

I hope we will see many +ve reviews on this device which will allow our many elders to live their live’s with unshakeable freedom.

Now that gives a shiver down my spine.

(My thanks for the image by Steven Depolo / CC BY)

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