For many people living with Parkinson’s disease, any task that requires motor skills can be a major barrier. This can include even simple tasks like eating or writing things down.
Parkinson’s disease, which affects as many as one million Americans, causes the gradual decline of fine and gross motor skills. Many individuals with Parkinson’s have difficulty walking, some can have difficulty speaking, and almost all suffer from tremors that make tasks like writing particularly challenging.
Difficulty Writing Is A Common Symptom Of Parkinson’s
There’s even a word for the writing-related difficulties that many Parkinson’s patients experience: it’s called micrographia, and it happens when hand cramps and tremors cause a patients writing to become progressively smaller and more cramped-looking.
But new technology designed with Parkinson’s patients in mind is making simple tasks more accessible to those whose motor skills are affected by the disease.
Introducing The ARC Pen
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Developed by the relatively new company Dopa Solutions, the ARC pen uses high-frequency motor vibrations to massage the hand, preventing cramping and facilitating larger, more legible handwriting.
The invention could be a real boon to those suffering. The inventors of the pen believe that it could help many individuals with common daily tasks.
“We heard stories of how frustrating it was for people who were still working, or who wanted to write a card, sign documents, anything that had to do with writing,” said product designer Lucy Jung, in an interview with Wired.
Only The Beginning
While there are drug treatments, surgeries, and other therapies that can help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s and improve the quality of life of Parkinson’s patients, there is ultimately no cure for the disease – and a general dearth of assistant technology designed for people living with Parkinson’s specifically.
Dopa Solutions is hoping to see how the technology that makes the ARC Pen functional could be applied to other products – including computer mice, make-up tools, brushes, and kitchen utensils.
One pioneering company, Liftware, has already developed a line of cutlery and other utensils with built-in stabilizing technology to help make eating less of a challenge for those with Parkinson’s and other tremor-causing conditions.
Restoring Dignity To Disabled Individuals
The importance of assistant technology like the ARC Pen and Liftware utensils is often overlooked, but vital just the same. Many individuals living with disabling medical conditions can feel like their life is being taken away from them, as they rely more and more on those around them for simply daily tasks like writing and eating.
Stabilized pens and utensils can restore a sense of independence to people with Parkinson’s and other degenerative diseases which may affect motor function – and that’s worth celebrating.