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A gyroscope is seen mounted on a GyroGlove, a wearable medical device designed to help people with Parkinson's disease and essential tremor stop their hands from shaking, near Towcester, Britain

Tremor patients could regain control of hands with gyroscopic glove

Image credit: REUTERS/Stuart McDill

A UK start-up has developed a glove with a built-in spinning gyroscope designed to help people with Parkinson’s disease and 'essential tremor' (ET) overcome the accompanying, often debilitating tremors and regain control of their hands.

Both conditions affect over 200 million people worldwide and can cause patients’ hands to shake so much that everyday tasks such as eating and drinking become difficult or impossible.

To help restore sufferers' confidence and their ease in performing daily tasks, start-up GyroGear has developed a glove which allows people with tremors to have increased hand stability.

Gordon McCabe, GyroGear’s development manager, and his team mounted a gyroscope inside the glove on the back of the hand which, much like a spinning top that will always stay upright as long as it’s spinning, makes the wearer’s hand stay level while the flywheel is spinning.

“Essential tremor is quite a hidden disability. You don’t see how much it affects us, how our muscles hurt, the beating they take with the tremor on the move all day,” said 56-year-old Jenny Field, a business analyst from Towcester in England, who has ET.

Business analyst Jenny Field wears a glove with a built-in spinning gyroscope that helps people with Parkinson's disease and essential tremor stop their hands from shaking, at her home near Towcester

Business analyst Jenny Field wears a glove with a built-in spinning gyroscope that helps people with Parkinson's disease and essential tremor stop their hands from shaking, at her home near Towcester.

Image credit: REUTERS/Stuart McDill

Gyroscopes are spinning discs used in aerospace technology and operate on the same principles as children’s toy tops. Conserving angular momentum to stay upright in any plane of motion, they can therefore counter any input of force in any direction swiftly and proportionately.

The company previously built and evaluated elastic bands; weights; fluid dampeners; springs; electromagnetic shock absorbers; hydraulics; electric nerve stimulation; soft robotics, and more to determine which materials would be most appropriate for this solution. They found gyroscopes were the best option for the company’s ‘GyroGlove’, given their responsiveness, simplicity and reliability.

“As soon as you put GyroGlove on, it puts your muscles at ease because they are not under so much pressure. You can enjoy your hobbies more, you could work more effectively at typing. The GyroGlove is huge because there is not a lot out there to help us,” said Field, who embroiders as a hobby.

The wearable technology fits over the lower part of the hand, wrist and forearm, with the gyroscope concealed.

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