Chulalongkorn University Unveils Tremor-Reducing Parkinson's Gloves: A Beacon of Hope for 10 Million Patients Worldwide

Groundbreaking gloves bring relief to people living with Parkinson's, presenting a path to enhanced mobility and independence.

Parkinson's disease, a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder affecting millions worldwide, has long presented challenges for patients. Tremors, slowness, and stiffness are the visible and often distressing symptoms that define the experience of patients with Parkinson's Disease. Tremors, particularly in hands while resting, afflict around 75 percent of patients, making everyday tasks challenging and hampering social interactions. Until now, the primary treatment for Parkinson's has involved a combination of medications, often failing to alleviate all tremors fully. Patients may resort to brain surgery, a costly and high-risk option in severe cases.

In response to this urgent medical need, a dedicated team of researchers at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, led by Prof. Dr. Roongroj Bhidayasiri and Asst. Prof. Onanong Phokaewvarangkul, Ph.D., has been working tirelessly since 2014 to develop a solution. The result is the "tremor-reducing Parkinson's gloves," a revolutionary medical device designed to automatically stimulate hand muscles, effectively reducing tremors without unnecessary reliance on medication or invasive surgery.

The innovative Parkinson's gloves function by combining two key systems. First, they detect and measure Parkinson's tremors accurately using an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Second, they suppress these tremors with electrical stimulation of the hand muscles. When the sensors detect Parkinson's-specific tremors, they transmit a signal via Bluetooth to the muscle stimulator, which releases an electric current to reduce the tremors. The gloves consist of three main components - the glove with the muscle stimulator, a control panel for detecting tremors and releasing electric current, and a mobile phone application to control the device and store tremor data for evaluation.

The 5th generation tremor-reducing Parkinson's gloves have evolved from a large prototype to a small, lightweight, and aesthetically pleasing device resembling a palm strap. Key highlights of the gloves include their safety and effectiveness in reducing tremors, ease of use, low production costs compared to medication and surgery, and the ability to record and transmit patient tremor data to doctors for evaluation.

"At present, the gloves have been successfully given to over 50 Parkinson's disease patients at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, showcasing their effectiveness in improving the quality of life for these individuals," Asst. Prof. Dr. Onanong shared.

With over 10 million PD patients worldwide and approximately 150,000 patients in Thailand, the prevalence of the disease is expected to rise in an aging society. Therefore, Chulalongkorn University's continuous research and development efforts to enhance the gloves' design, making them even more user-friendly and practical, are of paramount importance.

Chula's Parkinson's gloves have already garnered recognition, receiving the prestigious National Innovation Award in Society and Environment (Private Sector) 2022 from the National Innovation Agency (Public Organization), Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation. However, the research team is eager to explore further possibilities, including reducing tremors in other body parts and expanding applications to address tremors from other diseases.

Media Contact:

Chulalongkorn University
Phayathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand
Tel: +66 2218 3280
Email: [email protected]

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