Researchers in Thailand have developed a mug designed to reduce choking in adults with neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Choking in these patients can lead to pneumonia, lung infections and sepsis, not to mention the risk of death.
Professor Roongroj Bhidayasiri, M.D is a neurology specialist, and head of the Excellence Center for Parkinson’s Disease & Related Disorders at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society.
The researcher said: “When patients with difficulty swallowing and are prone to choking come to see the doctor, the doctor would advise them to eat slowly, drink slowly, bend their neck, then swallow mindfully and practice their neck muscles regularly.
“This is easier said than done, as less than half of the patients can do this because we often eat and drink the way we’re used to, so much so that we run the risk of choking.
“Since it is difficult for the elderly to modify their habits, we find other ways to help by studying normal drinking behaviour.
“The act of lifting our neck when the water touches our lips is used as a basis for the development of the remarkable “anti-choke mug.”
The mug allows the user to drink and swallow water in such a way that the oesophagus is in a good position, and the trachea is closed to reduce the risk of choking.
The mug is made of the same material as baby bottles, but designed to look like a regular mug.
Bhidayasiri said: “We don’t want users and people around them to feel that the person using this mug is a sick person in need of a medical device, so we designed the anti-choke mugs to blend in with everyday items that can be used anywhere.”
The mug’s interior features an anti-choking mechanism that ensures that the angle is right and the water flows correctly for the right length of time.
This ensures that the individual can drink water without tilting their neck backwards, drastically reducing the risk of choking.
Meanwhile, the handle has a bulging part at the bottom to help Parkinson’s patients to hold the mug more firmly.
The mug is now being tested by hospital inpatients and outpatients in their daily lives, with sensors fitted to the mugs to monitor water drinking behaviour.
Bhidayasiri said: “We want to know to what extent can drinking water from this mug in patients’ daily life without supervision from the doctor or nurse, can reduce choking.
“The results are all assessed from real usage data to make the design most compatible with everyday use, and then continue to expand production at the industrial level.
“Ultimately, the research team hopes that the “anti-choke mug” […] will enable users to happily eat three meals a day, drink water with confidence, and not worry about choking.”