As a part of Invent@IITGN 2018, a 6 weeks rigorous summer program to research, conceptualize and prototype a product that meets a significant need.
I worked in a team with my amazing team-mate Agrata and we were awarded the 3rd Best Invention and have filed for Patent in India and US.
‘SleepEasy’ is the secure, protective and comfortable blanket system designed to prevent Parkinson’s patients suffering from REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder from injuring themselves or their loved ones while asleep.
More than 10 million people worldwide are suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Upto 60% of them suffer from REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder.
It causes them to have violent episodes while being completely asleep. When they wake up, they have absolutely no recollection of having been violent. In the meanwhile, they may have harmed themselves or they may have harmed their partner.
Various restraints have been developed in the past, which secure the patient’s arms and/or other portions of the patient’s body, to prevent the patient from thrashing violently.
But none which is comfortable for the patient while at the same time, effective in restraining violent movements while allowing natural movements.
In fact, no alternatives are presently available which take into factor a Parkinson’s patients intermittent tremors, joint stiffness, inability to control drool while asleep and limitation of movement in getting in and out of the restraints without the help of any caregiver.
IDEATION & ITERATIONS
While designing our solution, one thing we aimed to improve was - the experience of sleeping.
Imagine not having the freedom to toss and turn while sleeping freely and also having to constantly worry about hurting the ones you share a bed with.
This was an unfortunate reality for 6 million Parkinson patients.
To ensure we kept the experience the same, one goal we made sure to meet was-
Our product should not hinder natural movements and only restrain violent movements.
We drew inspiration from the seatbelt, which only locks on impacts and sudden impulses but allows for movement otherwise.
Getting in and out of the bed was also an issue. Even though a lot of Parkinson’s patients have care-givers, the feeling of depending on people for basic activities like getting out of bed lowers self esteem.
So we wanted to empower the patients and make our solution something that can be operated by them.
Another issue was, seat-belts by themselves are constraining, we had to figure out a way to not let the blanket be taut at all times and also lock at impulses much smaller than the ones a seatbelt faces in an accident.
What followed was a series of rigorous prototyping, A/B testing of materials and iterations.
Finally, after multiple iterations, we finalized on a solution while keeping the following factors in mind
Easy to install in any kind of bed
Should be comfortable and cool/breathable
Should address intermittent tremors and self-dependancy (lack of a care-giver)
Easy to detach and washable
The system can be fitted upon and bed as long as there is a sideboard. Installation takes less than 5 mins and only requires a simple screwdriver/wrench.
SleepEasy will allow a patient with Parkinson’s for possibly the first time in a long time to have a full night’s sleep without injuring themselves or their loved ones.
Our final product video -
The whole process of identifying a problem from a broad idea to a final working prototype and patenting the invention was an amazing learning experience. Being someone driven by solving real problems and seeing the impact it can have on the world, designing SleepEasy was an incredibly gratifying process.
Although SleepEasy was designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients, the same patented idea behind the invention can be used for people suffering from PTSD, Epilepsy etc as well.
Looking forward, given the overwhelmingly positive response we received from doctors and experts in the field, we might approach the healthcare sector with hopes of scaling up this invention.