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Monday, October 3, 2022
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SMU Students Create ‘SteadiSpoon’ for People With Tremors

Health

From left, Remington Dewan, Richmond Dewan, Raman Dewan, June House and Raleigh Dewan. | Image by SMU

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Raleigh Dewan spent many meals watching his grandmother, who had Parkinson’s Disease (PD), struggle to eat her food independently. Dewan and his classmates set out to change the scenario for millions of Parkinson’s patients with “SteadiSpoon.”

The invention came to Dewan, who spent years on movie sets watching his brothers, one a director who would maneuver huge cameras on motion-canceling gimbal joints, and the other an actor who could create a script from an idea then transform it from a storyboard to a movie.

Dewan used his understanding of both to develop the SteadiSpoon, a self-stabilizing eating utensil that enables people with tremor-causing diseases like Parkinson’s to regain their ability to eat independently with ease and dignity.

Using the inspiration of his grandmother as a guide to take on the creation, Dewan enlisted the help of his classmates, Mason Morland and Emily Javedan, a Johns Hopkins student, to develop the utensil.

“We really do feel that we are doing something good, and our efforts will change lives for the better. That recognition is a very big motivator—and a reward in itself,” Morland expressed.

It is estimated that 500,000 Americans have PD. However, the actual number is probably much higher, given the prevalence of delayed or incorrect diagnoses, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Estimates suggest that 1 million Americans may have PD.

The numbers and Dewan’s grandmother pushed him to pursue marketing and creative writing degrees at SMU. He then went on to research PD and other eating assisting utensils. He found that items on the market were either too heavy, inefficient, or expensive.

After hundreds of man-hours, thousands of dollars in seed money, and help from engineers at Oklahoma University, Dewan, Morland, and Javedan were able to fast-track SteadiSpoon through testing and product development to create four spoon prototypes.

Following trials at the OU Health Science Center’s motion capture lab, the SteadiSpoon came up just short of its goal at 95% of the efficacy of the top motorized solution. In addition, the spoons are 3-D printable, making mass production easy and affordable.

Dewan’s grandmother sadly passed away in 2021 before the SteadiSpoon came to fruition, but her life and spirit continue to inspire the project.   

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