GyroGlove: Wearable Treatment Solution For Hand Tremors
The part of the brain most affected by Huntington’s disease, the basal ganglia, are groups of nerve cells (neurons) at the base of the brain. Basal ganglia are responsible for the motor movements of the muscles in the body. When cells in basal ganglia die, a common pathological symptom of HD, a person experiences uncontrollable muscular movements similar to that of fidgetiness. Another disease that produces similar uncontrollable movements symptom is Parkinson’s disease, due to its effects on a specific area of the basal ganglia called the substantia nigra.
After treating a 103-year-old patient who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and watching her struggle to eat a bowl of soup, Faii Ong, a 24-year-old medical student from Imperial College London, asked a nurse what more could be done to help the woman. “There’s nothing,” he was told grimly. Immediately after, Ong developed an early prototype of a device, called GyroGlove, which was the first wearable treatment solution for hand tremors. The GyroGlove is a small, lightweight stability device that fits on the back of the hand. It uses a miniature, dynamically adjustable gyroscope, which sits on the back of the hand, within a plastic casing attached to the glove’s material. Gyroscopes are spinning discs inspired by bleeding edge aerospace technology, but no different than children’s toy tops. Gyroscopes do their utmost to stay upright. These spinning discs thus counter any input of force instantaneously and proportionally. When the device is switched on, the battery-powered gyroscope whirs to life. Its orientation is adjusted by a precession hinge and turntable, both controlled by a small circuit board, thereby pushing back against the wearer’s movements as the gyroscope tries to right itself, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearer’s hand. Early stage testing of glove demonstrates significant reduction of tremors of over 80%. Moreover, the company seeks to track tremors each time the GyroGlove is used, thus providing quantifiable data for that will better inform users, their family and their doctors that may help patients optimally manage their medications.
While Ong and his company, GyroGear, have yet to set an exact launch date and cost for the glove, they hope to launch in the U.K. before September at a price between £400 to £600 ($550 to $850). Moreover, Ong has plans to address other tremors elsewhere in the body, such as the legs. He believes that the device could be used in professional contexts where the wearer requires a steady hand, such as surgery, photography, and even sports.
In conclusion, although there is currently no direct study on the use of GyroGear on HD patients, Ong is convinced that the technology could help reduce hand tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Further, the similarity between the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease suggest that this application could potentially be used to help HD patients, but more research would be necessary to determine this. For more information about GyroGlove, please go to this link.