Could 12, 2023 — Pupil entrepreneurs at Northwestern College exterior Chicago invented a pen set that permits Parkinson’s illness sufferers to write down once more regardless of the tremors of the illness.

SteadyScrib, a pen designed with these signs in thoughts, seeks to counteract the unsteady tremors of Parkinson’s with pens which have a magnetic core and a pliable grip. The specialised pen is meant to assist with three signs of Parkinson’s: tremors, slowness of motion, and rigidity. 

A skinny, steel-coated board and 4 magnets lock the paper into place. The pen, crammed with a weighted core and held with a pliable grip, steadies the shaky motion that usually impairs a Parkinson’s affected person’s means to write down. The magnetic power of the pen to the clipboard stabilizes the tip of the pen, and the person can then write legibly with ease. 

Isabelle Mokotoff, a junior majoring in journalism at Northwestern and co-founder of SteadyScrib, stated their purpose was to create a pen with intuitive design for Parkinson’s sufferers. 

“I feel our core values are that we needed it to be specialised, that means there may be at present no writing resolution available on the market that is particularly designed for folks with Parkinson’s,” Mokotoff stated. “We needed to specifically cater to that market as a result of there may be such an enormous high quality of life hole.” 

Mokotoff got here up with the concept when her grandfather, a lifelong author, misplaced his means to write down as a consequence of Parkinson’s. Mokotoff shared her frustration together with her sorority sister and Northwestern College junior Alexis Chan, a biomedical engineering main who collaborated to deliver Mokotoff’s imaginative and prescient to life. 

Mokotoff and Chan did greater than 100 interviews with Parkinson’s sufferers, their members of the family, and occupational therapists to validate the necessity of a writing software for Parkinson’s sufferers. 

They examined a number of supplies earlier than selecting neodymium magnets as the important thing in making a pen that steadies the tremor of individuals with the illness. Utilizing the 3D printer on the Storage, Northwestern’s innovation lab, the scholars created the primary prototypes final summer time. They then got down to check the pen units in a neighborhood Parkinson’s help group, Evanston Movers and Shakers. 

The SteadyScrib pen set, created by way of 3D printers on the Storage, an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship house for Northwestern College college students. 

Cissy Lacks, a member of Movers and Shakers, tried out the SteadyScrib pen set and stated it functioned higher than different pens she had tried earlier than. Lacks has had Parkinson’s for 3 years with delicate signs. As a theater evaluation contributor for the native newspaper, the Evanston Spherical Desk, Lacks hopes to make use of the invention for taking notes throughout interviews.

 She stated that the pen set additionally addresses wants resembling writing playing cards for family and friends, filling out types and questionnaires for the physician’s workplace, or writing checks. 

“As an alternative of my hand stopping or getting drained, it simply moved actually simply,” Lacks stated. “So my hand didn’t put numerous effort into making [the pen] work. And the scale of the letters keep the identical, which is de facto essential.”

Lacks stated that in residing with Parkinson’s illness, intention is essential to carry out an motion. Nonetheless, this solely quickly applies to writing, because the letters are inclined to get smaller as a consequence of dysgraphia, a neurological situation that impairs handwriting in varied methods. She stated SteadyScrib appeared to unravel this drawback.

“I can actually take into consideration the writing and it seems to be OK, however two strains later it’d get rather a lot smaller. However that wasn’t the case with this method. It just about stayed the identical,” she stated. 

The SteadyScrib pen set features a pen with a neodymium magnet core and a metallic steel sheet beneath the paper. 

Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer on the American Parkinson Illness Affiliation, stated she has seen utensils and pens for Parkinson’s sufferers however no machine that makes use of magnets to stabilize the tremors. 

Gilbert stated Parkinson’s illness impacts the motor planning talent of the sufferers, principally when the affected person is at relaxation. Dystonia, or involuntary muscle contractions, and dyskinesia, or muscle spasms, are some signs that may disrupt the writing course of. 

In response to Mokotoff, greater than 1,000 folks have added their names to a ready listing for a SteadyScrib set. The demand is greater than the manufacturing capability on the innovation house on campus, so SteadyScrib is now on the lookout for a associate to assist scale manufacturing to fulfill client wants. SteadyScrib acquired 5 grants totaling $43,680, and Mokotoff stated SteadyScrib is working with a number of potential companions with an curiosity in manufacturing the product. 

Chan stated SteadyScrib plans so as to add an extra function to retract the pen nib to forestall the ink from drying. SteadyScrib additionally works to tailor the pen to the Parkinson’s signs of its customers. 

As an illustration, sufferers fall right into a spectrum of Parkinson’s signs ensuing from tremors of different neurological challenges. Mokotoff stated her staff is working to regulate the pen in accordance with these findings for a extra inclusive and responsive product. 

“We designed our pen [based] on the most typical rated inhibitive signs,” Mokotoff stated. “However you recognize, the priority isn’t one dimension matches all.” 

Parkinson’s illness is a neurological dysfunction that leads to shakiness in actions or problem in strolling and speaking in extreme instances. Because the signs progress, fine-motor abilities resembling writing grow to be more and more tough to perform. In response to the Nationwide Institute of Neurological Issues and Stroke, Parkinson’s is the second most typical neurodegenerative after Alzheimer’s in the US. 

SteadyScrib is patented, and the co-founders ship month-to-month updates about growth by way of a e-newsletter. 

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