2013  •   Engineering and Technology

Instrumented Pen

Lead Presenter: Lauren Hess

Nearly one million people in the United States are living with ParkinsonÍs disease, which most commonly presents itself as uncontrollable tremors, particularly in the arms and hands. The purpose of this research is to study the grip force a user applies on a pen while writing, both unaffected and during a tremor. To conduct this research, a pen was developed by a NU capstone team that (I) measures grip force during a writing test and (II) is indistinguishable from a typical pen, to avoid ñwhite coatî artifacts. This is accomplished with flexible, thin, and conformable embedded sensors that allow data to be recorded and graphed to a display in real-time. Currently this pen is being used in a controlled environment to study grip force during tremors emulated by an electric-stimulation machine, and the end goal is to use this tool in studies with ParkinsonÍs patients. We aim to use this data to establish a connection between increased grip force and the presence of a tremor. This will allow the progression of the disease to be monitored before handwriting is compromised, and allow for therapies to be started at an earlier stage.