Eating can be difficult and embarrassing for those with tremors, but GyroGear thinks it has a solution for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor. The start-up has created a glove that steadies a person’s hand, making it easier to complete everyday tasks such as eating.
The glove’s power lies in a bronze disc on the back of the hand, which weighs about as much as a roll of nickels. It spins at up to 20,000 rotations per minute, providing a steadying force. The force of the battery-powered disc is akin to putting one’s hand in molasses. While moving is not as easy, the benefit is that much of the shaking is naturally filtered out.
GyroGear is aiming to reduce tremors by 70 percent. In one lab test, the London-based researchers say, it reduced a tremor by 90 percent.
GyroGear founder Faii Ong was inspired by a 103-year-old hospital patient who couldn’t eat without spilling food. While cleaning her up, the medical student at Imperial College started to brainstorm solutions.
Ong cautions that there’s still work to be done. The glove hasn’t been tested by outside parties, but they plan to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed journal by the end of the year. They also hope to begin selling the product by year’s end and are raising funds from investors.
“The idea of simple, wearable devices to treat tremor and to avoid the side effects from medications or alternatively the dangers of surgery is very appealing to patients and health care providers,” said Michael S. Okun, medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation. “The GyroGlove is an interesting idea, however many of these types of devices fall short of the expectations — especially when faced with very severe and disabling tremor.”
There are other efforts to use mechanical solutions to aid those with Parkinson’s disease. Lift Labs, a start-up that Google acquired in 2014, has devised a vibrating spoon and fork to counteract tremors and make eating easier. While having shown promise for mild tremors, Okun said it hasn’t proven the most effective solution for more severe cases.
In the long term GyroGear is interested in adapting its glove to other uses, such as for surgeons, physical therapists, photographers or anyone seeking to keep a steady hand.