More than 10 million people worldwide, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin's mother, have Essential Tremor or Parkinson's Disease. Although those with Parkinson’s Disease often experience a resting tremor while at rest, those with Essential Tremor frequently have a tremor while in action. Lift Labs has joined Google in creating a product for those of us who are struggling to eat with a hand tremor.
After living with Parkinson's for 18 years, I sometimes experience the embarrassment and frustration of trying to feed myself in public. With an unsteady right hand, I try to maneuver my food on to my fork or spoon. Some foods such as grapes are slippery when trying to get them positioned on my spoon. With my food loaded on my utensil, my food sometimes misses my mouth and lands on the table or the floor. I never leave home without “Tide to Go” (an instant stain remover) to use when my food lands on my clothes.
I usually ask for a larger plate when I’m at a restaurant. I don’t want a bigger quantity of food, I just want extra loading space so that I can retrieve the food off of my plate and improve my chances of it arriving at the correct destination.
Once I have my food up to my mouth, I have concerns about swallowing properly, and that the food “goes down the right pipe” and that I don’t choke on it. It’s a lot to worry about. But that’s another story.
When I leave the restaurant, I notice that it looks like a preschooler has had a meal at my table, not a senior.
Sometimes it’s just not worth all of the effort required to eat, and I skip a meal. It helps if my medication is working properly, and my tremors are less.
The Liftware Spoon may alleviate some of my food-feeding anxieties. Retailing for around a “mere $300,” it also has a fork attachment. It allows people with Essential Tremor and Parkinson Disease to eat without spilling. The technology senses how a hand is shaking and makes instant adjustments to stay balanced. In clinical trials the Liftware Spoon reduced shaking of the spoon bowl by an average of 76%.
Granted the Liftware Spoon is not a cure for Parkinson’s Disease or Essential Tremor, but it certainly has potential to make my life a little easier, more normal, and it allows me to live a more independent and productive life.