Editorial Feature

New Motion Sensing Technology to Help Patients Suffering from an Essential Tremor

A tremor is an involuntary muscle movement, a condition that is quite often referred to as the ‘quiet condition’. Commonly, this condition is more pronounced at the hands and arms of the human body. Mild forms of this condition are controllable through extreme forms of this condition are symptoms of more aggressive diseases and disorders including Parkinson’s disease.

Symptomatic drug therapy is the standard method to help treat this condition, though advancements in sensor technology are opening up a new avenue to try and measure and stabilize hand tremors.

Dr. Anupam Pathak, founder of Lift Labs has developed Liftware, a tremor cancelation sensor device. This technology includes a motion sensor component and an accelerometer. Both components work together and use gravity to calculate the angle at which the device is positioned and uses this information to tilt the device in the opposite direction to establish a balance for the end-user.

The basic theory of the operation of an accelerometer sensor involves the conversion of linear or angular acceleration into output through measurements of the displacement of the mass of an object when repositioned by a spring. The Liftware is designed as a spoon with multiple attachments: fork, soup spoon, and a keyholder.

The stabilizing technology that includes the accelerometer and motion sensors is held in the keyholder device, which also contains a battery that powers the Liftware device for several days. As soon as the end-user picks up the device, sensors detect the change in motion as a result of the hand tremors. Upon detection of the tremor – whilst the user is eating – the device balances the position of the spoon to avoid the user spilling food out of the spoon. The following video by Lift Labs shows Satoko, a Support Group Leader with a medium tremor demonstrating the use of the Liftware device whilst eating:

Liftware was tested over a two year period using over 100 different algorithms. In a study by Lift Labs that was published and presented at the 2013 American Academy of Neurological conference, the tremor amplitude in 11 subjects was reduced by 72% in the holding task, 76% in the task involving the patient eating using the spoon device, and 71% in the transferring task. With such promising results, it becomes clear that Liftware will be a key handheld medical device to reduce tremors in patients affected by mild-to-extreme forms of this condition in a marked effort to improve the quality of life for such patients.

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