This Glove Steadies Shaky Hands Caused by Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease affects one in every 500 people. It’s a nervous system disorder that causes hand tremors that can make simple tasks such as using a computer, stepping into a bathtub, or eating with a fork nearly impossible. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, “the tremor consists of a shaking or oscillating movement, and usually appears when a person’s muscles are relaxed.”

A new development may revolutionize how Parkinson’s sufferers live with tremors. A few years back, Doctor Faii Ong saw a 103-year-old patient trying to eat soup, but her hand tremors were so uncontrollable that she spilled soup all over herself. “[the nurses] explained that the lady had bad hand tremors,” Ong told Parkinson’s Life. “As a trainee doctor, if I truly cared about my patients, I promised myself to do something about it.”

Ong got to work on a project to help Parkinson’s sufferers and others with tremors regain use of their hands. After a lengthy period of trial and error, he found the solution in an unlikely place, tiny gyroscopes. “Mechanical gyroscopes are like spinning tops: they always try to stay upright by conserving angular momentum,” he explained to MIT Technology Review. “My idea was to use gyroscopes to instantaneously and proportionally resist a person’s hand movement, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearer’s hand.” This resulted in the GyroGlove, wearable technology that makes the tremor sufferer feel like they’ve stuck their hands in molasses, allowing for tremor-free movement. According to the research team, the GyroGlove reduces tremors by 90 percent.

Gyro 950

Ong’s team has also outfitted the device with a mobile app that tracks the disease’s progress. “The GyroGlove uses intelligent electronics to track the progress of the disease, displaying the information on a smartphone,” he told Parkinson’s Life. “We intend for this to offer patients, families, and doctors unprecedented insight into the disease.”

According to Sarah Webb, founder of the South London Younger Parkinson’s Network. “People with Parkinson’s take a cocktail of drugs daily, which over time won’t be so effective,” she says. “The GyroGlove is an exciting and a completely different concept: something we can wear, something we can feel the benefits of immediately and something which will make our lives easier and allow us to get on with our daily lives.” The glove is so effective, Ong’s team won £10,000 from The F Factor, an TV show created by American Idol’s Simon Cowell and the Founders Forum to help budding entrepreneurs.

Until the product is available on the market, Ong is researching ways to relieve tremors in other parts of the body and his ultimate goal is to “seek relentlessly for the GyroGlove to achieve our core objective – to improve the quality of life and independence for people with hand tremors.”

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