If you’ve ever lived with a Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patient, I’m sure you know that their limbs tremble. With this condition, they have frequent tremors and eating becomes cumbersome. They may shake leaving foods spilt all over. When they eat at restaurants, they find it hard using the hotel’s cutleries as they’re never designed with their conditions in mind. Physicians advise these patients to use weighted spoons so that the weight will help stabilize their movements as they eat. The same applies to forks.
With tremor being the biggest symptom behind Parkinson’s disease, daily activities are no fun. Mealtimes aren’t spared either. If the patient is self-conscious, these tremors may lead to isolated meals which in fact worsen the condition. Today, we will look at the various assistive living aids that improve the lives of Parkinson’s disease patients. Smart spoons serve two purposes – they’re weighted giving a firmer grip and they contain a gyroscope. A gyroscope (commonly referred to as auto-rotate by the typical layman) automatically stabilizes the spoon based on the person’s motion.
How do you know that your Parkinson’s patient needs a weighted Parkinson’s spoon?
Recently, Gyenno – one of the biggest players in the Parkinson spoon industry – revealed that a stabilizing spoon may not be beneficial to all patients. How can it fail to be effective? The Parkinson’s disease spoon that they make is only suitable for patients suffering from mild to moderate tremors. according to HealthLine, moderate tremors ranges from an amplitude of an inch to 3 inches. Gyenno further added that if the tremor exceeds an amplitude of 3 inches, then you’re better off feeding them with a standard spoon. A tremor spoon will offer no added advantage to such a person
Step 1: Take a large paper and draw a 3” by 3” square close to the middle. Cut out this square. You’ll have a 3” by 3” hole. See attached image
Step 2: Raise the paper such that you’re on one side and the patient on the other. Let them “balance” a pen inside this square. If they can balance it for more than twenty seconds without touching any edge, then the gyroscope spoon will be beneficial to them. If the amplitude is greater than 3 inches, then the Parkinsons spoon won’t is beneficial to them.
Gyenno steady Parkinson’s silverware review
This company has been producing superior quality assistive living devices and their anti-shake spoon is no exception. according to the manufacturer’s website, this spoon for Parkinsons patients reduces tremors by up to 85 per cent. Even though this isn’t perfect, I must say that it’s impressive. When fully charged, they guarantee that this gyroscopic spoon will help the patient eat throughout the day (five meals daily on average)
Why we love the Gyenno spoon
- It has an automatic eco-mode where it switches off when not in use
- The handle is made up of metal-grade silicon meaning that it will give you maximum utility throughout its life span
- This device has been approved by the FDA and is compliant to all other appropriate regulations
Advantages of this smart spoon
- It comes with an ergonomic design giving a comfortable grip
- It has been proven to reduce tremors by up to 85 per cent
- It’s eco-friendly with an automatic timeout battery saving feature
- It comes with a spoon and fork attachment
- It’s made of pharmacy grade antibacterial silicone that has passed FDA tests
- A few patients complained that it wasn’t as effective as they thought and it would fail after consistent usage
- It comes with a premium price tag
- The handle isn’t as durable and may break under heavy usage
Read how Gyenno compares with liftware
Liftware recently launched their spoon for Parkinson’s. Unlike the gyenno spoon that comes with two attachments – the liftware Parkinsons spoon comes with a standard spoon, a soup spoon and a fork. This three-in-one spoon for tremors is effective in 70% of the cases. This spoon Parkinsons utilizes a gyroscopic sensor to direct food towards the mouth.
Contrary to popular opinion, this liftware spoon doesn’t stop Parkinson’s tremors. Like a tiny cushion, it absorbs these movements aiding in eating. The spoon will either help stabilise the food or aid in moving it towards the mouth. This will depend on how hard the patient’s hand is shaking.
Biggest selling points of liftware Parkinson’s spoon
- It reduced tremors in 70% of the cases
- This stabilizing spoon has gyrometric sensors that automatically help in balancing food
- The patients weren’t embarrassed when eating with this spoon in public
Disadvantages of this stabilizing spoon from liftware
- It comes with a premium price tag and isn’t affordable to many
Good grip spoon for tremors
Unlike the two Parkinson spoons we’ve covered above, this anti shake spoon doesn’t have a gyrometric sensor. It’s a weighted spoon instead. The manufacturer designed this spoon in such a way that it’s weighted ensuring that there’s less pouring. Even with moderate tremor, the food won’t fall off as it also features a raised lip.
This is not a smart spoon. It relies on physics (and gravity) to ensure that food doesn’t run off. It also has a deep surface that makes it the best Parkinson’s disease spoon when enjoying soup.
The biggest advantages of this spoon for Parkinson’s patients
- It has a deep surface minimizing spillage
- It’s weighted ensuring that the food reaches the mouth even when having moderate to mild tremors
- A few patients complained that this Parkinson’s silverware was too heavy though this is really counterproductive.
- The edges aren’t as smooth and may scratch the lips
Kinsman 11794 weighted utensils for Parkinson’s
Even though this tremor spoon is classified under the “affordable” range by many people, it was too heavy when I tested it. According to the manufacturer’s specification, this parkin sons spoon weighs 7 ounces. This renders it too heavy to a patient suffering from level 3 Parkinson’s disease. AT this stage, the tremors have a high amplitude and a weighted spoon isn’t a viable long term solution.
Advantages of the Kinsman 11794 spoon for Parkinson’s
- Ideal for patients with level 1 and level 2 Parkinson’s.
- The rubber grip is comfortable and ergonomic
- It’s made of food-grade stainless steel making it immune to corrosion and dishwasher safe
- It has a deep base so that soup (or food) doesn’t spill.
Disadvantages of this steady spoon
- It is unsuitable for patients with stage 3 Parkinson’s disease.
Sammons Preston Weighted spoon
This is our latest addition to the cheap non-spill spoons list. Anyone suffering from stroke, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or has a weak grip will generally benefit from this spoon. The handle is made of non-slip plastic giving it a firm and comfortable grip. Even though the manufacturer specifies that it has a bendable handle, I found it too stiff just like all other stabilizing utensils for Parkinson’s. The handle was made of a tough plastic and it was too stiff to bend.
Advantages of this spoon
- The non-slip handle gives a comfortable and firm grip
- It is dishwasher safe as it has a stainless-steel head.
Disadvantages of this weighted spoons for Parkinson’s
- Weighing over 7 ounces, it was too heavy for the typical Parkinson’s disease patient
- The handle is too stiff for anyone with a weak grip.
Bunmo assistive devices for hand tremors
This is the ideal package if you’re looking for a Parkinson spoon and fork. In the box, you will get a regular spoon and a soup spoon, a table knife and a Parkinson’s fork. This set is best used by those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, having handicapped hands or with arthritis. They all have a strong steady grip ensuring that the user holds them with ease. Looking at the knife, it’s curved and sharp for an easy time while eating.
What we liked about this set of Parkinson’s utensils
- They’re all large in size and have a steady grip
- The heads are made of stainless steel making them durable and dishwasher safe
- They’re all weighted utensils for Parkinson’s
- Relatively cheaper in comparison to a gyroscopic steady spoon
Even thigh they are effective, they do not have a motion sensor so the tremors will still be visible and the patient may be embarrassed.
Vive Weighted Parkinsons’s spoon
Vive is well known for their adaptive eating utensils for adults. They’ve been making caregiving products and their Parkinson’s spoon is loved by many. In this standard set of four, you will get a regular spoon (typically referred to as a feeding spoon), a Parkinson’s fork and a soup spoon.
With this weighted Parkinsons spoon, the tremors are minimized and the patient eats comfortably. Even though it’s not as effective as a gyenno steady spoon when it comes to minimizing the tremors, it still does a commendable job and the results are visible after a few days of regular usage.
- The handle is ribbed for extra grip
- It has a weighted head to minimise on the tremors.
- The handle may break under heavy usage
- It doesn’t come at competitive
Guide: How to minimize tremors when drinking beverages
- Start by holding the cup with two hands. This gives more stability
- Do not take alcoholic or caffeinated drinks as they tend to trigger the tremors
- Raise the cup (or soup bowl) while keeping it close to the body. Ideally, the elbows should be folded
- You could fill the cup halfway or use straws depending on the degree of tremor
- Ensure that you’re fully rested before eating as lethargy aggravates
- Your physician may advise you to wear weighted watches, bracelets and wristbands based on the initial diagnosis. They help in stabilising the hands.
- Do not stand for long while waiting in line at a buffet. Seek assistance from someone nearby instead.
- Use a weighted spoon when eating. You could also fill a regular spoon half way and see if it makes a difference
- Put on a napkin before eating to ensure that you do not stain clothes
- For maximum stability, hold the cup’s handle with one hand while the other one supports it from the base
- Use a smart spoon for Parkinson’s sufferers or weighted utensils during meal times.
- Have your steak cut into smaller pieces before hand.
- When eating, place utensils close to the edge of the table. They have non-slip grips.
Parkinson’s disease: Background
According to WebMD Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s “motion coordinator” In the early stages, the tremors are barely noticeable and they go unreported more often than not. As the ailment progresses, the hands start to shake vigorously and performing typical tasks become a challenge. In Stage 3, it affects how we speak, talk and sleep.
Statistically speaking, PD mostly affects seniors over 60 years. However, there have been cases where it has affected younger people although rare. There’s no known cure for PArkinosn’s disease. However, there are medications that aid in alleviating these symptoms.
Which Part of the Brain is affected by Parkinson disease?
Dopamine – the happy hormone – is produced at the back of the brain in the substantia nigra. This section of the brain houses the cells that send “messages” across the brain. When you need to move a limb or eat something, this dopamine carries the electrical signal to the respective nerve cell responsible for that motion.
At a young age, all components as working as they should and the person has smooth, regular motions. When Parkinson’s disease hits the substantia nigra, it affects some of the cells there and the dopamine levels start to reduce. This means that your brain doesn’t have enough “messengers” to pass movement coordination information. These cells start weakening off and dying one by one. Perhaps this is why the symptoms are barely noticeable in the first stages but they progress with time.
What are the different stages of this disease
Stage 1: In this stage, the tremors are mild and barely noticeable. The patient is able to live a normal life without the need for assistive devices
Stage 2: The symptoms start showing at this stage and they take longer than usual when performing typical tasks
Stage 3: This is where most people seek medical assistance. They may fall when walking and putting on clothes becomes a challenge. This is more pronounced when wearing shirts. They’re unable to eat without spillage unless they use a gyenno Parkinson spoon.
Stage 4: The feet aren’t as smooth as they used to be and the patient needs to be assisted while walking.
Stage 5: This is the final stage of Parkinson’s disease and they require assistance when performing all activities. They’re fully dependent on their caregivers.
How does it affect the body?
What are the typical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
- Muscles– They become rigid and the patient cannot move freely. I may sometimes be misdiagnosed as arthritis because of the stiff muscles
- Slow movements– The patient takes longer than usual when performing tasks such as putting on socks or eating
- Tremors– the jaws, limbs and lips shake even when not in use
- Unable to balance while walking– The shoulders and arms aren’t in coordination and you cannot walk as fast. The patient is unable to perform long walks and they have to take shirt steps instead
What risk factors trigger Parkinson’s disease
Age: Historical records have shown aht people over the age of sixity are at a higher risk of getting this disease
Sex: Men have a higher risk of contracting Parkinson disease in comparison to the opposite sex
Hereditary: It is genetical. You’re at a higher risk of getting this disease if either of your parents (or someone in their family tree) has it
Exposure to toxins: A few pesticides have harmful toxins that trigger this disease
Are there medications that help in alleviating these symptoms?
Levodopa: As explained earlier, Parkinson disease occurs when the appropriate glands aren’t producing enough dopamine responsible for motion coordination. Dopamine cannot be Injected in its raw form as it’s one of the few hormones that cannot be passed from the blood to the brain. Levodopa, a dopamine precursor, passes the blood-brain barrier and it is therefore suitable. Even though it’s not as effective as dopamine, it’s better than nothing.
Dopamine agonists, when used in conjunction with carbidopa-levodopa, mimic the brain’s natural dopamine and activate dopamine receptors causing an temporary relief from tremors.
How can caregivers take care of their Parkinson’s disease Patients?
- Show them love and Empathy
Be there when they need you. When you have Parkinson’s disease, it’s impossible to perform typical tasks efficiently. Help them button shirts, eat and brush teeth. You should also offer walking aids when they have a hard time walking.
- Be understanding
They’re often ashamed of their condition. Do not laugh at them when they have tremors while eating or when performing daily activities. Give them moral support when they’re unable to hold a pen correctly when writing. Make yourself useful.
- Prepare healthy meals
Ensure that they eat foods rich in starch and proteins. You should also ensure that they eat fresh fruits and leafy vegetables regularly as they help in promoting dopamine production.
- Adaptive Utensils and Eating Aids for Hand Tremors
Think of buying assistive eating devices such as non-spill cups, a gyenno spoon and normal weighted spoons. They will minimize the tremors when eating thereby restring their dignity.