Magnetic Pen Set Stabilizes Writing for Parkinson’s Patients

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May 12, 2023 -- Student entrepreneurs astatine Northwestern University extracurricular Chicago invented a pen group that allows Parkinson’s illness patients to constitute again contempt nan tremors of nan disease.

SteadyScrib, a pen designed pinch these symptoms successful mind, seeks to counteract nan unsteady tremors of Parkinson’s pinch pens that person a magnetic halfway and a pliable grip. The specialized pen is intended to thief pinch 3 symptoms of Parkinson’s: tremors, slowness of movement, and rigidity. 

A thin, steel-coated committee and 4 magnets fastener nan insubstantial into place. The pen, filled pinch a weighted halfway and held pinch a pliable grip, steadies nan shaky activity that often impairs a Parkinson’s patient's expertise to write. The magnetic unit of nan pen to nan clipboard stabilizes nan extremity of nan pen, and nan personification tin past constitute legibly pinch ease. 

Isabelle Mokotoff, a inferior majoring successful publicity astatine Northwestern and co-founder of SteadyScrib, said their extremity was to create a pen pinch intuitive creation for Parkinson’s patients. 

“I deliberation our halfway values are that we wanted it to beryllium specialized, meaning location is presently nary penning solution connected nan marketplace that's specifically designed for group pinch Parkinson's,” Mokotoff said. “We wanted to specially cater to that marketplace because location is specified a immense value of life gap.” 

Mokotoff came up pinch nan thought erstwhile her grandfather, a lifelong writer, mislaid his expertise to constitute owed to Parkinson’s. Mokotoff shared her vexation pinch her sorority sister and Northwestern University inferior Alexis Chan, a biomedical engineering awesome who collaborated to bring Mokotoff's imagination to life. 

Mokotoff and Chan did much than 100 interviews pinch Parkinson’s patients, their family members, and occupational therapists to validate nan request of a penning instrumentality for Parkinson’s patients. 

They tested aggregate materials earlier settling connected neodymium magnets arsenic nan cardinal successful creating a pen that steadies nan tremor of group pinch nan disease. Using nan 3D printer astatine nan Garage, Northwestern’s invention lab, nan students created nan first prototypes past summer. They past group retired to trial nan pen sets successful a section Parkinson’s support group, Evanston Movers and Shakers. 

The SteadyScrib pen set, created done 3D printers astatine nan Garage, an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship abstraction for Northwestern University students. 

Cissy Lacks, a personnel of Movers and Shakers, tried retired nan SteadyScrib pen group and said it functioned amended than different pens she had tried before. Lacks has had Parkinson’s for 3 years pinch mild symptoms. As a theatre reappraisal contributor for nan section newspaper, nan Evanston Round Table, Lacks hopes to usage nan invention for taking notes during interviews.

 She said that nan pen group besides addresses needs specified arsenic penning cards for friends and family, filling retired forms and questionnaires for nan doctor's office, aliases penning checks. 

“Instead of my manus stopping aliases getting tired, it conscionable moved really easily,” Lacks said. “So my manus did not put a batch of effort into making [the pen] work. And nan size of nan letters enactment nan same, which is really important.”

Lacks said that successful surviving pinch Parkinson’s disease, volition is important to execute an action. However, this only temporarily applies to writing, arsenic nan letters thin to get smaller owed to dysgraphia, a neurological information that impairs handwriting successful various ways. She said SteadyScrib seemed to lick this problem.

“I tin really deliberation astir nan penning and it looks OK, but 2 lines later it mightiness get a batch smaller. But that wasn't nan lawsuit pinch this system. It beautiful overmuch stayed nan same,” she said. 

The SteadyScrib pen group includes a pen pinch a neodymium magnet halfway and a metallic metallic expanse underneath nan paper. 

Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, main technological serviceman astatine nan American Parkinson Disease Association, said she has seen utensils and pens for Parkinson’s patients but nary instrumentality that uses magnets to stabilize nan tremors. 

Gilbert said Parkinson’s illness impacts nan centrifugal readying accomplishment of nan patients, mostly erstwhile nan diligent is astatine rest. Dystonia, aliases involuntary musculus contractions, and dyskinesia, aliases musculus spasms, are immoderate symptoms that tin disrupt nan penning process. 

According to Mokotoff, much than 1,000 group person added their names to a waiting list for a SteadyScrib set. The request is much than nan manufacturing capacity astatine nan invention abstraction connected campus, truthful SteadyScrib is now looking for a partner to thief standard accumulation to meet user needs. SteadyScrib received 5 grants totaling $43,680, and Mokotoff said SteadyScrib is moving pinch respective imaginable partners pinch an liking successful manufacturing nan product. 

Chan said SteadyScrib plans to adhd an further characteristic to retract nan pen nib to forestall nan ink from drying. SteadyScrib besides useful to tailor nan pen to nan Parkinson’s symptoms of its users. 

For instance, patients autumn into a spectrum of Parkinson’s symptoms resulting from tremors of different neurological challenges. Mokotoff said her squad is moving to set nan pen according to these findings for a much inclusive and responsive product. 

“We designed our pen [based] connected nan astir communal rated inhibitive symptoms,” Mokotoff said. “But you know, nan interest isn’t 1 size fits all.” 

Parkinson’s illness is simply a neurological upset that results successful shakiness successful movements aliases trouble successful stepping and talking successful terrible cases. As nan symptoms progress, fine-motor skills specified arsenic penning go progressively difficult to accomplish. According to nan National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Parkinson’s is nan 2nd astir communal neurodegenerative aft Alzheimer’s successful nan United States. 

SteadyScrib is patented, and nan co-founders nonstop monthly updates astir improvement through a newsletter. 

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