Grandson's love inspires SteadiSpoon device to help people living with Parkinson's disease

A college student in Dallas invented a device inspired by his love for his grandmother. The SteadiSpoon may also one day help others with her same debilitating condition.

Southern Methodist University senior Raleigh Dewan's grandmother suffered from severe hand tremors after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

She became unable to eat without spilling her food and could no longer prepare her favorite dishes.

"My grandmother, Gran June, was a true southern belle, and she would have the most amazing southern feasts. These mealtimes were a big thing for my family," Dewan said.

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SMU student Raleigh Dewan was inspired to create the SteadiSpoon because of his grandmother's severe hand tremors.

He said the hand tremors robbed her of her agency, autonomy and dignity. They also meant his family could no longer enjoy the mealtimes that had meant so much to them.

"This all started with me just trying to find a solution that could help her," he said.

Dewan partnered with several other students at SMU to create a startup aimed at empowering people like his grandmother.

They used some of the same technology that Dewan had seen his older brother using in the film industry to create the SteadiSpoon.

"They use Steadicam technology to stabilize the camera when it’s moving dynamically to capture the action scenes. And I was always fascinated by this technology," he said. "So, I thought, ‘If we can stabilize a Hollywood film set, I wonder if we could stabilize my 90-pound grandmother’s trembling hand."

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A prototype of the SteadiSpoon (Raleigh Dewan)

Affordability was key in Dewan’s design. The prototypes of the SteadiSpoon are entirely mechanical rather than motorized, meaning it costs less than half the price.

"So many of the solutions are so cost prohibitive. And, you know, my grandmother was a rural school teacher in Arkansas for 42 years. There was no way she could have afforded a $400 device with $30 a month replacement heads.  And so, I wanted to make sure that not only was this scalable to be able to impact everybody but for it to be affordable for everybody across the world no matter their location or financial situation," he said.

Dewan hopes the Steadispoon eventually becomes a product that helps all Parkinson’s patients regain the agency, autonomy and dignity that the disease steals from them.