New York: Do you feel embarrassed at social luncheons because you can’t control your hands from shaking uncontrollably due to a medical condition? Take heart.
Created by an Indian-origin entrepreneur, a new hand-held electronic device is here that can help such patients overcome the hand shakes caused by essential tremor — the most common movement disorder.
Developed by San Francisco-based start-up firm Lift Labs, that is a brainchild of Anupam Pathak, the device was clinically tested at University of Michigan’s health centre.
In a clinical trial involving 15 adults with moderate essential tremor, the device — called LiftWare — improved patients’ ability to hold a spoon still enough to eat with it.
The researchers measured the effect using a standard tremor rating, the patients’ own ratings and digital readings of the spoon’s movement.
“The data shows this device has very good potential to assist those who have tremor and aren’t candidates for surgery. Compared with other devices designed to limit tremor by weighting or constraining limbs, this approach allows movement and is easier to use,” explained essential tremor specialist Kelvin Chou from University of Michigan.
“The concept is called ACT, or active cancellation of tremor. It relies on tiny electronic devices that work together to sense movement in different directions in real time, and then make a quick and precise counter-motion,” said Pathak, CEO, Lift Labs.
The device resembles an extra-large electronic toothbrush base.
It can adjust rapidly to the shaking of the user’s hand, keeping a detachable spoon or other utensil steady.
In other words, it shakes the spoon in exactly the opposite way that the person’s hand shakes.
People get really frustrated by tremor and experience embarrassment that often leads to social isolation because they’re always feeling conscious not just eating but even drinking from a cup or glass.
“Only about 70 per cent of patients respond to medication, and only about 10 per cent qualify for surgery, which has a high and lasting success rate,” added Chou.
Though the trial did not include patients with hand tremors caused by other movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, the device may be useful to such patients too, said the study that appeared in the journal Movement Disorders.