Assistance with helping boy to draw
(posted by Susan Iwanek firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ian Midgley at the Harrogate and Ripon panel has the following challenge and would appreciate input from members who may have had a similar case. He writes:
We have a case of a boy who is athetoid cerebral palsy with lots of jerky, uncontrolled, random movements all the time. The challenge is to see if we can help him to write/draw. He can just about put pen to paper but can’t draw anything you would ever recognise.
His OT has had some success with his eating using the manual Neater Eater ( http://www.neater.co.uk/main.htm ) where it dampens his involuntary movements quite effectively using fluid couplings – which brought her to us to see if we could apply the same principle, but with the added articulation needed to draw/write. I got in contact with Neater and they used to make a fluid dampened mouse which some people had apparently adapted to take a pen http://www.neater.co.uk/mousetrap.htm , but they consider that the dampening necessary to write with, would make any device very tiring. They may be right but I found if I supported his hand just a little, it gave him some better control.
What I’m struggling with though is making a coupling that properly dampens, rather than movement being restricted by friction which certainly would be too tiring. That coupling will need to be fully adjustable too, to get the right amount of resistance.
Commercial items already identified/considered are:
1. Able2 mobile arm support – the OT has tried this with a small degree of improvement
2. A magnetic support, but this relies on the user being able to hold the pen against the rest which he will not be able to do at the same time as trying to move it.
This idea would be easy to replicate with some sort of pen holder but the issue is how we then get him to control putting a pen on/off the paper.
3. An aid made in the US which supposedly caters for this problem, but there is very little trace of the manufacturer, reviews etc. so I’m not convinced it would be better than other arm supports.
My best alternative thought so far is a variation on the weighted pens you can get where the pen is attached to his hand by way of a weighted glove/wrist brace, but his movements are likely to be too random for this to be effective unless it was (say) accompanied with a dampended roller ball underneath it which suppresses any involuntary sideways movements.
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