2019 InVenture Finalist: TremorTrainer
With some inspiration from family members affected, 2019 InVenture Prize finalists TremorTrainer are hoping to improve the quality of life for millions of people.
With some inspiration from family members, 2019 InVenture Prize finalists TremorTrainer are hoping to improve the quality of life for millions of people.
“My grandfather has really shaky hands. He began to struggle with simple tasks like signing his name and buttoning his shirt,” explains Nicolette Prevost, a biomedical engineering student. “It turns out there’s no known cause or cure for what he’s experiencing.
Essential tremor is one of the most common movement disorders in the world. It is often difficult to diagnose, difficult to treat, and difficult to live with.
TremorTrainer is a weighted glove that helps patients regain some of the their fine motor skills, which can be impeded by tremors – especially in carrying out everyday tasks that require the use of their hands. As they developed their product, they found it could likely help many more people than they first intended.
“My uncle has MS, and Parkinson’s disease is the most well-known disease where your hands are shaking. We knew that tremors were a pretty diverse symptom of other diseases,” says biomedical engineering major Nisha Goddard. “We kept finding groups of people who could possibly benefit from this.”
They have already had users test the gloves.Team TremorTrainer says those wearing their prototypes reported being able to type on keyboards, sign their names, even draw circles –
things that had been severely limited by their tremors.
“These are things we take for granted. A lot of these people are very healthy otherwise, ” Prevost says. “By giving them the power to continue doing those everyday tasks they are able to continue living in their own homes and working without embarrassment.”
TremorTrainer continues testing, and finding tasks that their device has the potential to improve. The ran trials with users simply using keys to open doors.
“Imagine standing outside. It’s cold, it’s rainy, and you can’t get your key in the lock,” says materials science and engineering student Colten Spivey. “It was amazing how different the results were.”
Many of the current devices designed to help tremor patients are expensive and may only serve one purpose – weighted silverware for example.
“We wanted to make something that users could pick up off the shelves in stores or pharmacies at a reasonable cost,” Prevost says.