Those who suffer from Parkinson's disease or have a loved one who is living with it understand first-hand how it visibly affects their quality of life. Tremors can make minor tasks such as tying your shoes or drinking a cup of coffee seems almost impossible. Since there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, patients are left with several options to treat their signs and symptoms. Everything from invasive brain surgery to medications; exercise or even botox. Although it may seem that there are abundant treatment paths for patient exploration, not all paths are suited for all Parkinson’s patients.
Do they require treatment for Motor or non-motor symptoms such as dietary or memory loss? Qualifications for different treatments or combinations of treatments vary as well; age, stage, severity of disease and how active they are. Most medications require other medications to take with them to reduce the severity of the side effects and brain surgery can be risky and frightening.
Development efforts to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s are evident. But gaps are evident and there is always room for improvement and in this case innovation.
Mark Elias, a Canadian Engineer, took a different approach to tremor treatment with his grandmother’s interest in mind. He teamed up with a close friend, also familiar with the disease, and they started their journey to developing Steadiwear. The gloves and other garments combine innovative technology and comfort. “It uses a smart fluid designed to instantly provide instant and equal resistance to hand tremors” Together, Mark and his carefully selected team at the University of Toronto’s Impact Centre continue to improve and develop its models.
The product promotes its several consumer-friendly features such as being washable, requiring no batteries, adjustable to different tremor levels and its lightweight and comfort.
“Used in cutting-edge Earthquake-proof building design, smart fluid dampers are unmatched in their simplicity, size, adaptiveness, and safety”.
Steadiwear is committed not just to using science and technology to create a better product but they often look directly to the community for research. Their team “attended several support groups across Ontario with high hopes of improving the lives of anyone with hand tremors and developing the result needed & deserved.
First impressions: this company impresses and its products are being recognized for its non-invasive and innovative impact on a major industry dilemma. Here are a few of the company's accomplishments to date:
- In the spring of this year Steadiwear was one of three innovative companies to win the RESI (Redefining Early Stage Investments) on MaRS Innovation Challenge. The premise of this challenge is based on innovation and commercial viability with dozens of products competing for the top titles.
- Steadiwear was one of two UofT startups to claim prizes at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery conference, "an event that seeks to promote the commercialization of innovative ideas in the province,"
- More recently in October Steadiwear participated in and won a national healthy-aging ideathon competition. The event was established last year and is put on by AGE-WELL (Canada's Technology and Aging Network) and Hacking Health. Steadiwear was one of seven finalists and took home a prize valued at $50,000
- On a global scale, Aging 2.0 Global Startup Research announced Steadiwear as one of their 2017 finalists. "The Aging 2.0 Global Startup Search is an annual program designed to search the world for the best aging-focused startups," Steadiwear is one of 5 finalists that has been narrowed down from hundreds of applicants based on a series of pitch events and online voting process.
I am excited to see where Mark and his team take Steadiwear. TO Health will be sure to keep a close eye on its progress in providing alternative treatment solutions to the traditional Parkinson’s disease tremor symptoms.