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Simple hacks for life with Parkinson's

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    In India, we have these huge families.
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    I'll bet a lot of you all
    must have heard about it.
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    Which means that there are
    a lot of family events.
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    So as a child, my parents
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    used to drag me to these family events.
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    But the one thing
    that I always looked forward to
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    was playing around with my cousins,
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    and there was always this one uncle
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    who used to be there,
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    always ready, jumping around with us,
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    having games for us,
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    making us kids have the time of our lives.
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    This man was extremely successful:
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    he was confident and powerful.
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    But then I saw this hale and hearty person
    deteriorate in health.
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    He was diagnosed with Parkinson's.
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    Parkinson's is a disease that causes
    degeneration of the nervous system,
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    which means that this person
    who used to be independent
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    suddenly finds tasks like drinking coffee,
    because of tremors, much more difficult.
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    My uncle started using a walker to walk,
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    and to take a turn, he literally had
    to take one step at a time, like this,
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    and it took forever.
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    So this person, who used to be
    the center of attention
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    in every family gathering,
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    was suddenly hiding behind people.
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    He was hiding from the pitiful look
    in people's eyes.
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    And he's not the only one in the world.
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    Every year, 60,000 people
    are newly diagnosed with Parkinson's,
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    and this number is only rising.
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    As designers, we dream that our designs
    solve these multi-faceted problems,
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    one solution that solves it all,
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    but it need not always be like that.
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    You can also target simple problems
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    and create small solutions for them
    and eventually make a big impact.
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    So my aim here was
    to not cure Parkinson's,
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    but to make their everyday tasks
    much more simple,
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    and then make an impact.
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    Well, the first thing I targeted
    was tremors, right?
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    My uncle told me that he had stopped
    drinking coffee or tea in public
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    just out of embarrassment,
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    so, well, I designed the no-spill cup.
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    It works just purely on its form.
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    The curve on top deflects the liquid
    back inside every time they have tremors,
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    and this keeps the liquid inside
    compared to a normal cup.
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    But the key here is that it is not tagged
    as a Parkinson's patient product.
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    It looks like a cup that could be used
    by you, me, any clumsy person,
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    and that makes it much more comforting
    for them to use, to blend in.
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    So, well, one problem solved,
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    many more to go.
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    All this while, I was interviewing him,
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    questioning him,
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    and then I realized that I was getting
    very superficial information,
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    or just answers to my questions.
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    But I really needed to dig deeper
    to get a new perspective,
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    so I thought, well,
    let's observe him in his daily tasks,
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    while he's eating, while he's watching TV.
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    And then, when I was actually
    observing him walking to his dining table,
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    it struck me, this man who finds it
    so difficult to walk on flat land,
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    how does he climb a staircase?
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    Because in India we do not have
    a fancy rail that takes you up a staircase
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    like in the developed countries.
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    One actually has to climb the stairs.
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    So he told me,
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    "Well, let me show you how I do it."
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    Let's take a look at what I saw.
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    So he took really long
    to reach this position,
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    and then all this while, I'm thinking,
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    my God, is he really going to do it?
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    Is he really, really going to do it
    without his walker?
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    And then...
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    (Laughter)
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    And the turns,
    he took them so easily.
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    So shocked?
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    Well, I was too.
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    So, this person who could not
    walk on flat land
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    was suddenly a pro at climbing stairs.
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    On researching this, I realized that
    it's because it's a continuous motion.
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    There's this other man
    who also suffers from the same symptoms
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    and he uses a walker,
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    but the moment he's put on a cycle,
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    all his symptoms vanish,
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    because it is a continuous motion.
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    So the key for me was to translate
    this feeling of walking on a staircase
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    back to flat land.
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    And a lot of ideas were tested
    and tried on him,
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    but the one that finally worked
    was this one. Let's take a look.
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    (Laughter)
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    (Applause)
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    He walked faster, right?
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    (Applause)
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    I call this the staircase illusion,
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    and actually when the staircase illusion
    abruptly ended, he froze,
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    and this is called freezing of gait.
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    So it happens a lot, so why not have
    a staircase illusion
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    flowing through all their rooms,
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    making them feel much more confident?
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    You know, technology is not always it.
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    What we need are human-centered solutions.
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    I could have easily
    made it into a projection,
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    or a Google Glass, or something like that.
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    But I stuck to simple print of the floor.
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    This print could be taken into hospitals
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    to make them feel much more welcome.
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    What I wish to do is make
    every Parkinson's patient
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    feel like my uncle felt that day.
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    He told me that I made him feel
    like his old self again.
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    "Smart" in today's world
    has become synonymous to high tech,
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    and the world is only getting
    smarter and smarter day by day.
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    But why can't smart be something
    that's simple and yet effective?
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    All we need is a little bit of empathy
    and some curiosity,
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    to go out there, observe.
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    But let's not stop at that.
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    Let's find these complex problems.
    Don't be scared of them.
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    Break them, boil them down
    into much smaller problems,
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    and then find simple solutions for them.
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    Test these solutions, fail if needed,
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    but with newer insights to make it better.
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    Imagine what we all could do
    if we all came up with simple solutions.
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    What would the world be like
    if we combined all our simple solutions?
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    Let's make a smarter world,
    but with simplicity.
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    Thank you.
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    (Applause)
Title:
Simple hacks for life with Parkinson's
Speaker:
Mileha Soneji
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
06:57

English subtitles

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