A glove that reduces Parkinson’s tremors

The physics that allowed you to spend hours spinning tops as a child could help people with Parkinson’s disease feed and dress themselves.

The GyroGlove is a glove with a miniature, adjustable gyroscope on the back of the hand. When powered on, the battery-operated gyroscope constantly spins to stay upright. That momentum steadies and corrects hand tremors while allowing for deliberate movement.

“Mechanical gyroscopes are like spinning tops: they always try to stay upright by conserving angular momentum,” says GyroGlove founder Faii Ong to MIT Technology Review. “My idea was to use gyroscopes to instantaneously and proportionally resist a person’s hand movement, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearer’s hand.”

Prototype testers described wearing the glove as moving their hand through syrup. Tremors are smoothed, giving them full hand control, but weighted and slowed. Early testing found the glove reduced tremors by more than 80 percent. And it doesn’t require a doctor to individually fit the glove.

Ong came up with the idea for GyroGlove two years ago as a medical student at Imperial College London. He was assigned to care for a 103-year-old woman experiencing significant weight loss and increasing frailty. He realized one day at lunch her declining health was caused by her Parkinson’s tremors. She spent a half hour trying to eat her soup but spilled most of it.

GyroGlove is seeking volunteer testers. An exact launch date hasn’t been announced, but they expect the glove to appear on the market by fall 2016 with a price point between $550 and $850.

Ong envisions the technology being applied to help others with tremors, including the twitching leg muscles associated with restless leg syndrome.

Topics: Clinical