Tremor spoon helps stabilize shaking hand

SAN FRANCISCO

"It is embarrassing when you can't keep food on a spoon," he says." Especially if you like soup or salads, you can't keep salad on a fork."

But a San Francisco start up believes it's come up with a solution in the form of a spoon that can do what a patient's hands cannot -- hold food steady.

Anumpam Pathak, Ph.D. is founder of Lift Labs. He says the device could help millions of patients suffering from a range of conditions including Parkinson's disease. The spoon, known as LiftWare, makes constant adjustments in real time to compensate for the tremors.

The challenge according to designers was to get the spoon to distinguish shaking from the normal movements of a person eating.

"But, If I'm actually lifting the spoon up, that's a much slower motion so it would allow that to exist," says Pathak.

To accomplish that, engineers married motion sensors to a tiny computer which uses sophisticated algorithms to detect various degrees of motion, all miniaturized to fit in the spoons rechargeable handle.

For patients like Bremhorst the difference is dramatic.

"It's dampening my tremor tremendously," says Bremhorst as he demonstrates the spoon.

The unit was field tested with the help of researchers at the University of Michigan as well as patient groups. The National Institutes of Health provided funding. The company is now taking orders for delivery this December, offering tremor patients the hope of achieving what most of us take for granted.

"The device is amazing" says Bremhorst. "It's a lifesaver for those who can't get food into their mouths."

Additional resources for tremor sufferers are also available from several advocacy groups including Essentialtremor.org and tremortalk.org.

Written and produced by Tim Didion

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