With the advent of the 3D pen a few years…
About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is unfortunately fairly common; 1 in 500 people suffer with its varied and difficult symptoms, and 127,000 people have been diagnosed with it in the UK alone. There is currently no cure, and so the main focus for patients until this changes is on how the symptoms can best be managed.
The most common symptoms for those who have Parkinson’s disease include physical manifestations such as rigidity, slowness in movement and tremors. Mental health problems such as anxiety, dementia and depression are also a common occurrence. Sadly though, these are just a handful of the major and debilitating symptoms that can be associated with this disease.
What Is Micrographia?
A common but often overlooked symptom of Parkinson’s disease, Micrographia is a condition that gradually makes a person’s handwriting smaller and cramped, and therefore harder to read. Micrographia can actually be an early warning sign of PD, and whilst it may not sound like a ‘big deal’ to some, it can be both inconvenient and devastating to the patient.
Micrographia makes letter-writing, drawing, filling out forms and other activities either difficult or impossible. This can take not only pleasure but a sense of independence away from the patient, as they then have to rely on others to write for them. For artists or keen writers in particular, this would be a highly distressing situation.
Some patients start writing in a larger font and then it gradually gets smaller, and some just always write in a very small and illegible way. Both of these situations are not desirable, and so a group of college students in the US, collectively called Dopa Solution, started to look into ways this could be improved for patients.
The ARC Pen by Dopa Solution
The result of Dopa Solution’s research and testing is the ARC pen. It works by stimulating certain muscles in the hand, and by reducing the amount of energy and effort required to move one’s hand across a page. It has an ergonomic shape, making it as comfortable as possible to hold, and there’s a button which alters the level of vibration intensity so the user can personalise it to their individual needs.
86% of the initial participants in the trial of this pen produced bigger handwriting when they used it, compared to normal pens. This is very promising news to those with Micrographia. Dopa Solution are currently still developing and testing the ARC pen to ensure it is as effective as possible, before bringing it on to the market.
I hope the design is finalised and put on sale as soon as possible, as it sounds to be a great solution to those with Parkinson’s disease or unrelated Micrographia who enjoy penmanship and their independence.