Through most of her childhood, 14-year-old Jui Keskar from Pune has watched her uncle battle Parkinson’s disease, and spend most of his time frequenting in and out of hospitals, often in Mumbai.
She also noticed how his medication depended entirely on his tremor history. His suffering pained her, and she felt the constant need to help him in some way. This opportunity arrived around the same time as the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, which gave her time to figure out a way to potentially help her uncle, and others who suffer from Parkinson’s.
“The disease causes involuntary tremors, and my 42-year-old uncle could not control them. I’ve seen him in this state for almost nine years. I observed that doctors administered or prescribed medication based on the frequency of the occurrence of these tremors, but there was no device to measure them,” Jui tells The Better India.
An impressive feat
In a bid to measure tremors and analyse data to chalk out a customised medication plan for treatment, Jui has developed the JTremor-3D device. This is a wearable device embedded with sensors, accelerometers and gyro meters, which are linked with the software. It enables the tracking of tremors every 1/10th of a second in a person’s body, and stores the data in a Cloud database, where the information is processed and sent to the doctor. The outcome of the data helps in further determining the course of medication.
For her efforts, Jui received the Broadcom-IRIS Grand Award 2020-21 from the Central government in January this year. She is one of the 20 winners chosen across the country in the Initiative for Research and Innovation for STEM (IRIS) National Fair.
Organised by Lincoln Laboratories, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, IRIS serves as a platform for national and international students between Classes IX and XII to promote innovative ideas. Jui will also represent India in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held in the US.
‘One cannot control what one cannot measure’
Jui says the inspiration of this device came from a quote she had read somewhere, which said, “One cannot control what one cannot measure.” “This line remained stuck in my head, and I thought the only way to control the tremors would be to measure them first,” she recalls.
She adds that she accessed various resources that helped her in this feat. “Research showed that such devices already exist, but they’re bulky and limited to only clinical trials and research purposes. There were no wearable devices that were of every-day use or that could allow doctors to prescribe medication according to the needs of the patients,” she says.
The Class-IX student says she struggled to link the transfer data to the cloud database and put additional efforts to study programming languages like Python. Jui has also created a concept called the JTremor Index, which documents the frequency of tremors in the body, and the specific time of day when they reach their peak, and the time they are at their lowest.
Initially, Jui built a small box that needed to be strapped on the body, but later developed prototypes that could be worn as gloves or strapped on legs. After ten months of work, while balancing her academics, Jui’s resultant working model was priced at about Rs 9,000.
Jui’s work has earned her the appreciation of the scientific community. In October last year, she won the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam National Award for Innovation and Creativity. The same year, she also won the INSPIRE-Manak Award from the Department of Science and Technology from the Pune district.
Jui has filed two patents for the device, and wants to commercialise it. “I intend to obtain the necessary certifications that will allow me to try them on patients. Two clinics have been identified for testing the device, and my aim is to help patients get better treatment,” she says.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)