Parkinson’s disease currently affects over one million individuals in the United States, and hundreds of thousands more cases are diagnosed each year. The disease is a main culprit of annual deaths within America, currently holding the 14th spot on the list of causes of death. Parkinson’s disease affects every aspect of a diagnosed person’s life, including eating and socialization. Scientists and inventors are on a constant quest to make the disease easier to live with, often finding great success by altering items that people in America use every day.
The debilitating disease of Parkinson’s has many identifying characteristics, including shaky limbs, speech and writing changes as well as a stooped posture accompanied with balance issues. Arguably the most famous person with Parkinson’s disease, Michael J. Fox, suffers with impaired speech, a stooped posture and tremors- which he had brain surgery to try and decrease. Fox launched his own foundation titled the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and participates in tireless research in order to find a cure. While a cure is still being developed, many people have re-invented everyday items in order to make living with the disease less debilitating.
The most recent invention is a spoon which moves opposite tremors in order to help the user get food from a plate to his or her mouth. The spoon is called Liftware and was invented by Anupam Pathak, an engineer with friends who suffer from tremors caused by Parkinson’s. There is a motion sensor within the spoon that acts upon tremors by moving away from the direction the tremor is pulling, creating a balancing effect that keeps food on the spoon from plate to mouth. The spoon has a 70 percent success rate so far, meaning that possibly over 70 percent of people who suffer from Parkinson’s could have the dignity that comes with feeding themselves restored. This invention, as well as many others, is hoped to make living with Parkinson’s much easier, if not in the very least more accessible.
Negative aspects of the disease affect everyday tasks and sometimes make it difficult for people with the disease to more or less take care of themselves. Holding a cup full of water seems like such a menial task, unless a person can no longer hold the cup steady and drink from it simultaneously. A mug invention, handSteady, has a rotatable handle which counteracts tremors by operating much like Liftware. The cup stays upright no matter how violent tremors become, keeping liquid inside. Besides losing the ability to perform necessary tasks, side effects of the disease also inhibit activities such as using a computer mouse. The Assisted Mouse Adapter filters unwanted hand movements, only allowing intended movements like clicking on an icon on the user’s desktop. This invention increases usability of computers for many people who suffer from tremors.
Individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s disease have found these inventions very useful for everyday activities. Advancements in technology, including these inventions, are extremely important in finding a cure, as well as necessary for people who are attempting to live normal, easier lives while under the firm hold of Parkinson’s disease. A cure is being aggressively sought after; inventions which help to restore dignity and independence greatly help in the meantime.
By Courtney Heitter