Parkinson’s Disease can be incredibly debilitating as it is characterized by tremors, muscle rigidity and can affect how a person speaks and walks. Emma Lawton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the young age of 29 after years of feeling “shaky.” Most people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed after the age of 50, so the diagnosis was a big shock for the young Lawton.
Lawton is a graphic designer and was used to being able to use her hands to sketch ideas. Once the tremors started to affect her motor functions, Lawton found it nearly impossible to accomplish her normal everyday activities. Over the years, her hand tremors worsened and she was no longer able to write or draw.
As Lawton would try to draw and replicate a straight line, her hand would become so unsteady that she felt, “It’s not really worth it.” That was until computer scientist Haiyan Zhang came onto the scene. Lawton met with Zhang and asked her to create something that would help her hand do what she wanted it to do. In the initial meeting, Lawton told Zhang, “To sign my name would be an incredible thing!” Zhang looked for inspiration in other inventions made for people with the disease. Zhang ended up developing the most amazingly helpful invention! Lawton and Zhang’s story was featured on BBC Stories.
Watch Emma’ emotional response to her first time using the invention in the moving video below!
In the video, Zhang references a spoon that people affected by tremors can use. She is referencing the Liftware Stabilizer used to help people with tremors eat with utensils easily. Zhang explained, “It actually counteracts the tremors you get from Parkinson’s so the spoon actually vibrates in opposition to how your hand may be shaking and therefore is steady.” Check out the video about Liftware below to see it in action!