Computerized Spoon That Benefits Parkinson's Disease Patients Can Also Help Neurologists

APRIL 22, 2016
Amy Jacob
A battery-operated Liftware utensil was developed in 2014 to help Parkinson’s disease patients manage their hand tremors and conquer daily activities.
 
The utensil contains a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, and a computer for real-time tremor cancellation – it also has a spoon and form attachment.
 
The same computerized spoon, which works by correcting hand movements, moving in opposite directions, and compensating for the tremor, could also prove to be a useful clinical tool for neurologists.
 
Svjetlana Miocinovic, MD, movement disorders fellow, Department of Neurology, University of California at San Francisco presented findings of the study at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
 
The new research has discovered that the spoon’s assessment of tremors is similar to that of neurologists’.
 
The study involved 13 participants – eight with Parkinson’s disease and five with essential tremor. Each patient was required to carry out five trials of two tasks: transporting food between a bowl and the mouth and transferring food between two bowls. They were to use an ordinary spoon and the Liftware spoon.
 
According to Miocinovic, “The way you can use this signal from the accelerometer is that you can extract the power and the tremor frequency, you can feed it into a linear regression model, and you can train the model to give you a score from 0-4 that matches the neurologist score.”
 
What does this mean?
 
Essentially, Miocinovic believed the spoon is just as good as a neurologist in discerning whether a patient suffers from a mild, moderate, or severe tremor.
 
However, further studies would entail using the spoon to monitor patients over time to assess their potential improvement in treatment.
 
The tool is currently on the market costing $195. Its physical attributes are similar to an electric toothbrush, as it sits on a cradle to recharge, since batteries last between two-three days.
 


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