‘Smart’ spoon may help control Parkinson’s tremors

LiftWare spoon
LiftWare spoon. (Photo courtesy LiftWare)

The Parkinson Society Canada estimates that over 100,000 Canadians live with Parkison’s disease in the country. This incurable neurodegenerative disorder occurs when the cells that produce dopamine die. In the absence of this chemical, signals do not properly reach the nerves in the brain, resulting in tremors that impinge on the patients' ability to accomplish the most essential tasks, including eating.

San Francisco-based Lift Labs is about to release the Liftware spoon, which would help stabilize the patients' tremors and enable them to eat with more dignity. The spoon has an embedded computer that analyzes the tremors and moves in the direction opposite to them.

Dr. Anupam Pathak, founder and CEO of Linx Design behind the Lift Labs initiative, developed the concept while at the University of Michigan. In a news release about the spoon, he explains that his PhD work aimed at finding materials that would facilitate "active cancellation tremor" in the military.

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Dr. Pathak later applied his idea to address a disease that remains neglected by researchers. According to him, much of the previous technology aimed at resisting the tremors, rather than applying "active cancellation tremor," a strategy that is less painful for the patients.

The spoon offers important social and economic benefits. “The device can mean the difference between depending on being fed by a caregiver and being able to feed oneself,” Pathak told the engineering organization ASME.

The Liftware spoon will be on sale starting next month, at the cost of $295. Interested customers can register to be notified when the spoon is up for sale by visiting the company's website.

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