It’s always inspiring when today’s youth recognize a need in our society and set out to create, develop, and execute a method to help those who are suffering. Fourteen-year-old Anushka has participated in many science fairs in Plano and was a national finalist at the Computer Science Girls competition for middle school girls in the field of technology and computer science last year. This year, she contacted DAPS seeking volunteers with Parkinson's disease (PD) to consider trying her safe and non-invasive prototype to help alleviate tremors in PD patients. After presenting her project to the DAPS Hunters Glen Baptist Church exercise class, several members of the class volunteered to participate in Anushka’s experiment.
Although Anushka is a native Texan, her parents were born and raised in India, where their families still reside. Traveling regularly to India has enriched Anushka's experiences culturally while also building valuable relationships with family members, like her great aunt who has Parkinson’s disease. Recognizing the struggles that tremors created for Anushka’s aunt sparked an idea that she pursued for a school science project.
The science fair in Plano was held on November 12. Anushka explains her project in more detail:
For this year's science project, I've been researching possible solutions for months to see various therapies and technology used to alleviate tremors caused by Parkinson's–especially to improve dexterity. I've seen and read that vibration therapy could help, but none are available in the market. The few readily available [types of] technology that could aid in mitigating tremors are expensive and not easily portable.
I learned through my research that vibration therapy can help to mitigate tremors as it tricks the brain into thinking that the hand is already tremoring. My goal is to put that to the test and see if vibrations can be used to mitigate tremors enough to be at ease when writing, drawing, and performing daily activities.
My prototype is similar to an adjustable bracelet, built with a Velcro strap and coin motors. The coin motors of my prototype will emit a light vibration that will act as white noise in the brain, to block that feedback loop the brain has in the first place, therefore stopping the hand from tremoring as such. The bracelet is easily customizable for anyone’s wrist and coin motors will feel almost like the vibration of a ringtone. This is completely safe and non-invasive.
My hope is to provide a low-cost, fairly affordable device that could improve the quality of life of Parkinson's patients. I am so grateful to DAPS for supporting me and encouraging me to work with their members to help gather data for my prototype.
DAPS and the Parkinson’s community are fortunate to have a generation of young people like Anushka who will be on the forefront of research and treatment in the years to come. We are so excited and grateful that Anushka contacted us with her science project proposal. A big thank you also goes to the DAPS members at Hunters Glen for volunteering and working with Anushka.