For Lawton, the numbness first set into her right arm. It felt odd and stiff. Her colleagues often called it “The Claw” because it moved so rigidly, and it was particularly noticeably at work. Lawton worked as a graphic designer and loved writing.
Over time, both of these activities became more and more difficult because of her worsening condition.
When the symptoms first appeared, Lawton assumed she was just suffering from a pinched nerve or carpal tunnel syndrome, from having overused her hand for work.
But when Lawton went to visit her family, she was asked, bluntly, “What’s wrong with your arm?” That was when she finally agreed to go see a doctor.
At her appointment, Lawton’s fears settled more heavily. Her doctor was concerned that her right arm wasn’t naturally swinging when she walked and sent her in to get brain scans.
When the scans came back, Lawton’s doctor broke the news: she had Parkinson’s disease. There was no cure to the condition, and she could only hope to take medication to alleviate as many of the symptoms as she could for brief periods of time.
Otherwise, she would have to learn to live with the constant tremors and lack of mobility.
In late 2016, after three years of living with her worsening tremors, Lawton was contacted by Haiyan Zhang, a scientist who was determined to develop a piece of wearable technology that would allow Emma to make use of her right hand once more.
After several months of trial and error, Zhang finally came back to Lawton with a solution. Zhang called it, a motor that Emma could wear on her wrist that would vibrate to counteract the tremors in her hand, “The Emma.”
From the first time Emma tries it, she’s overcome with tears. “I’ve just written my name for the first time in ages,” she says over the phone to her mother. Everyone – Emma, her mother, and Zhang – are all overwhelmed.
You can watch the incredible moment here: