This special spoon helps people with tremors at mealtime
Is the Liftware Steady Spoon the best eating solution for people with Parkinson’s?
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Over the past several years I’d been experiencing some unexplainable indications that something was wrong with my body. Loss of balance was the major problem, but I was also shuffling my feet, mumbling my speech, my writing became very tiny, and there was shaking in my right arm.
About 12 months ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a diagnosis that neatly explained many of my symptoms. My balance hasn’t worsened, but my stereotypical Parkinson’s tremors have. So I joined a Facebook support group to learn more. I was justifiably concerned about my PD, because no disease is good, but I learned it isn’t necessarily a death sentence. There are around one million people with Parkinson’s in the U.S., so less than 1% of the population is affected by the disorder. I guess I’m just one of the lucky ones.
One of the more common problems is tremors in the arms, which frequently causes eating difficulties. A potential solution I found was the Liftware Spoon, which sports “Active Cancelling Device Technology,” and aims to negate tremors and allow a person with Parkinson’s to more smoothly lift and lower the spoon, and also prevent food on it from falling off in transit from plate to mouth.
While the price would certainly be an obstacle for many of us, I tried one to see if it was worth the cost.
About the Liftware Spoon
The Liftware Spoon comes in a starter kit that includes one detachable spoon and the handle it attaches to, a USB power charging cable, and a charging cradle for the handle. Forks and knives are available at extra cost.
Liftware's utensils counteract tremors in much the same way a bobblehead's top would stay stationary as you jiggle the base. The spoon can hold its contents still this way, even as the handle shakes.
What I like
It actually works
Truthfully, I was somewhat mystified with the way the spoon actually functioned at first. I initially tested it using a bowl of Cheerios. When I scooped up a portion of the cereal, it appeared as if the utensil was doing nothing at all. The spoon and its contents shook in sync with my tremoring hand.
“This will never work,” I said.
But the action was like a weird optical illusion. Yes, the spoon and Cheerios were indeed shaking, but to my surprise, the cereal stayed on my spoon just fine, and I was able to consume mouthful after mouthful with little or no spillage. I don’t understand why it was working, because by appearances it shouldn’t have, but the spoon’s performance was remarkable.
One look at my test video is proof that clearly shows how greatly superior the Liftware spoon is when compared to a standard one.
It's comfortable to hold
Another aspect I liked was that it felt comfortable when I held the device. A standard spoon, like I used in my video, has a narrow handle and can be problematic if my tremors are acting up. The Liftware “Steady” Spoon has a much wider handle and allows for easier, firmer grip. Further, it seems to be ergonomically designed to fit the palm.
What I don’t like
For the most part, I liked it just fine. However, there a few minor points I found I felt I need to mention, because I know they are concerns experienced by other PD sufferers.
When my wife and I go out to eat, I don’t like to stand out among my fellow restaurant-goers. The spoon is bulky, and so it can make me stand out to others looking in our direction. I’m self-conscious of my disorder. Consequently, I’d rather eat with a normal utensil and wait until my tremor calms down (because my particular tremors are, thankfully, not constant so far) in order to shovel a mouthful, rather than having a bulky device laying on the table. That’s something people such as myself do not want. I only plan to use it at home, where spilling some cereal doesn’t embarrass me, and yields only some sympathy from my wife.
Liftware emphasizes consumers try their device for a week before deciding if the Steady Spoon is right for them. There is a bit of acclimating you have to do.
One major drawback is that it is fairly expensive at $195. That will buy a starter kit, which includes only one detachable spoon. Forks and knives are available at extra cost.
It may not work for severe tremors
Another thing to consider is that Liftware spoons were part of a study, and the participant selection is notable. The company prequalified participants and only allowed PD sufferers with mild to moderate tremors to participate. This could indicate that they aren’t confident that their equipment will work for those with severe tremors. At the very least, its effectiveness with severe tremors hasn't been tested at scale.
Should you buy it?
Would I recommend the spoon to fellow Parkinson’s sufferers? Yes, it worked quite well for me. It’s expensive, true, but worth the investment if you can afford it. There are potentially cheaper options. A weighted spoon is one of them. Just as the name implies, it’s simply a spoon with added weight. There is no mechanical magic involved. It’s a heavy spoon. What makes it work, for me anyway, is that my tremors calm down when my right hand is working, at least some of the time. By picking up something with some weight, the idea is that it is work and the tremors will subside at least enough to eat gracefully.
Yes, weighted spoons work to a limited extent for me, but not as good as Liftware Steady Spoon. While weighted spoons are much less expensive (approximately $15 to $25), they could also prove to be much less effective depending on the severity of the tremors. As cliché goes, “Individual results may vary."
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.