“Smart” Utensils Help Those with Tremor Feed Themselves

According to the American Academy of Neurology, approximately 10 million Americans suffer from tremor.  Tremor, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is defined as “unintentional rhythmic muscle movements involving to-and-fro movements (oscillations) of one or more parts of the body.  It is the most common of all involuntary movements and can affect the hands, arms, head, face, voice, trunk and legs. Most tremor occurs in the hands.” Tremor can be caused by a variety of conditions. These may include conditions like multiple sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and neurodegenerative diseases.  While tremor may occur at any age, it most often affects middle age and older people and affects men and women equally.

Whatever the cause, there are challenges that affect many aspects of life. Eating is a daily activity that can be a tremendous challenge for those suffering from tremor.

Google has developed a remarkable, technologically advanced utensil set to combat the effects of tremor.  According to CBS News, “Using hundreds of algorithms, they allow people with essential tremors and Parkinson’s Disease to eat without spilling.” The technology used in “Liftware” senses how the hand is shaking and makes adjustments, reducing shaking by an average of 76%.

Prior to this advanced technology, there had been utensils that were designed to assist those with tremor, but they primarily focused on the design of the utensil itself, such as the shape of the bowl, size of the handle, etc.  Liftware is an entirely new approach, utilizing advancements in technology.  It consists of a stabilizing handle which attaches to either a soup spoon, regular spoon, or fork attachment.  The unit senses the irregular movement of the hand and counters it to achieve a more stable movement pattern.  The handle runs approximately $199.00 on Amazon.com, and each attachment runs approximately $34.95 (although some handle kits come with the spoon attachment included).  The unit is easy to use and does not have an on/off button, but rather turns on automatically when the attachment is connected to the stabilizing handle.  The attachments are dishwasher safe, and the handle charges on a charging cradle.  It takes approximately 3 hours to fully charge, and the charge lasts anywhere from 3-6 meals.

Liftware is a wonderful example of how assistive technologies can help those with tremor maintain their independence longer. At Elder Law of East Tennessee, our Care Coordinators are always on the lookout for new technologies that can improve the quality of life for elders, individuals with disabilities, and those providing care for them.  If you or your loved one need help learning about ways to manage care, give us a call.  We will be happy to help you find ways to maximize quality of life.