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How TikTok lead to pill bottle upgrade for people with Parkinson’s

Photo credit: Haley Lawrence/Unsplash

Scooping a pill from a pill bottle is not something that most of us think much about. Whether it’s for preventative health measures (ex. Vitamin D) or a prescription medication, we shake or pick the pill(s) out and go about our day. But for people with Parkinson’s, this can be quite the hassle.

Look no further than Jimmy “American Ninja Warrior” Choi, who has competed in more than 100 half marathons, 15 full marathons, one ultra-marathon, and too many 5K and 10K runs to count. He did it all after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 27, too. While a sizable amount of us probably won’t match his fitness regimen (from doing marathons to balancing dogs while squatting and lifting grown women with one arm), getting medication out of a pill bottle has become quite the challenge for him. Choi shared a video on Dec. 27 of his hands shaking while trying to reach into the lid of a pill bottle:

“Hey Parma [sic] companies… get a clue! Raising #parkinsons #awareness sorry, I get a little angry when I am struggling to move sometimes.”

For the everyday person, this TikTok post may have gotten buried, but not for a man with 179.4K followers. According to CBC, videographer Brian Alldridge saw Choi’s video of his hand shaking as he tried to retrieve a pill. Alldrige was inspired to try to find a solution for him.


Update on the pill bottle project. A huge thank you to everyone who has poured so many hours into this. #science #3dprinting #parkinsonsdisease

♬ So Fine – Trees and Lucy

So he created public domain files full of his ideas for what a pill bottle should look like for those with trembles from Parkinson’s. While he works on the backend to find companies that will be able to create a pill bottle version that uses minimal plastic, Alldridge encouraged users to check out 3D printing options. And the challenge was on.

Several tech-savvy creatives dove into the pill bottle project to create workarounds, one of which is David “Hungry Engineer” Exler—a man who is hell bent on defending his 3D printer purchase to his wife. TikTok users have been able to check out his progress from original versions all the way to a prototype pill bottle that will separate pills one at a time and can be taken like a shot. (Amazingly, LMFAO’s song was a missed opportunity as background music.)

The current version will be used to test out functionality and is available via his Etsy shop. People who want to support this pill bottle for Parkinson’s initiative can donate directly to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation.

Did you know? Five facts about Parkinson’s Disease

  1. Some well-known celebrities who have (had) Parkinson’s disease (PD) include heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (at the age of 42 in 1984), Fox (at the age of 29 in 1991), NBA player Brian Grant (at the age of 36 in 2008), the Rev. Jesse Jackson (at the age of 74 in 2015) and Robin Williams (three months before he died at the age of 63 in 2014).
  2. A slight shaking or tremor in your chin, finger, hand or thumb while at rest is a common early sign of PD.
  3. Your handwriting getting noticeably smaller, which is called micrographia, or crowding letters together may be a sign of Parkinson’s.
  4. Although a common cold can lead to a loss of smell, it should come back. If there is a lingering loss of smell, consult a doctor. (Side effects of loss of smell and/or taste from coronavirus can complicate this.)
  5. If your feet feel like they’re stuck to the floor and you have continuous trouble walking or moving, this could be an early sign.

Consult a licensed health professional for a credible diagnosis.

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