Corrective Writing Instrument for Persons Affected by Tremors

Abstract

Involuntary tremors affect approximately 12 million people in the United States and are primarily caused by ParkinsonÍs disease (PD), essential tremor (ET), and dystonia. Tremors are typically observed in the hands and are thus the main source of difficulties faced by patients while performing common daily activities such as eating and writing. Affordances for handwriting, rather than substitutions, are preferable for the majority of the affected population as they would rather have their own handwriting aided instead of replaced or automated. This RISE project presents several designs and one prototype for such an affordance using passive and active damping methods. To test these devices, a novel method of using electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) technology to emulate the effects of involuntary tremors in unaffected patients was developed by the group. This technique was used to demonstrate the effectiveness of a preliminary passive prototype in handwriting improvement, now under further development. This work was partially supported by NSF Grant #1133992.