Tag Archives: empathy

see me, feel me

 

Klick-Labs-SymPulse-Tele-Empathy-Device-Ttop-image-768x512
Image of Sympulse from Klick Labs

In my last blog, Tell Me What You Want, I reviewed the need for PWP (People with Parkinson’s) to be more vocal about their needs.

While we might wish that others in our lives would be more empathetic, we can’t leave it solely to their own initiative.

Well, surprisingly, someone was listening. And right here in Canada! I’m not exactly sure that this is what I had in mind but if the shoe fits (or, in this case, the armband), wear it!

CTV news reported recently that Klick Labs has developed a tool that can simulate the experience of PWP so that their caregivers can get a sense of what it actually feels like for that person.

This device, dubbed  The Sympulse, records the tremors of Parkinson’s patients and then wirelessly transmits the data to a second device worn by a caregiver, to allow them to “truly feel what the patient is feeling”. The device, which resembles a blood pressure cuff, is strapped around the forearm, with a battery and motor pack providing the tremors.

I probably should have stopped reading the article here. My skeptic antennae were buzzing. The article continues…

Klick Labs VP Yan Fossat says the point of the “tele-empathy” device is to help those caring for people with the nerve disorder to get a real feel for the condition.

“This is intended to create empathy, to make you feel that having tremors is actually very debilitating; it’s not just a mild inconvenience,” he told CTV’s Your Morning.

“Feeling the disease with your own arm, with your own hand, is the best way to truly understand what it’s like,” he added.

Okay Yan, thanks for the thought. I’d be negligent if I didn’t point out though, Parkinson’s Disease is about much more than a “nerve disorder” or having tremors. One doesn’t have to look far to see that PD is a complex, chronic neurological disorder compounded by a myriad of other conditions including rigidity, dyskinesia, isolation, depression, apathy, mobility problems – to name but a few. PD also varies so much from one person to the next  (for my own personal “list”” see my blog here). Feeling the disease is, of course, impossible without living with it which we obviously wouldn’t wish upon anyone but pretending that running a few volts of current through some wires and giving the odd jolt to someone’s arm will help someone “truly understand” PD is a bit of a stretch. If the purpose is to feel my tremor, reach out an touch my arm. Or hold my hand.

There is, I’m sure, a use for such a device in “simulation” exercises such as those employing smoke-stained goggles to simulate limited vision or noise-reduction headphones to suggest hearing loss or padded gloves to simulate dexterity restrictions. Using the Sympulse in this context, and with the understanding that tremors are but one symptom of PD, might provide an opportunity to foster empathy. I’d suggest it will take a little more work than this purports.

 

To read the aforementioned article in full, click here.