Description of Market Need:
The number of children who require occupational therapists to aid in handwriting development sharply increased in recent years. As of 2017, 42% of children, aged 0-8 years, owned their own touch screen device. While a direct causal relationship has yet to be established, this technological trend has potential to fix this new developmental issue. Touchscreen technologies are commonplace in homes and schools, and a stylus that helps fix children’s writing ability has great potential to be widely adopted.
Description of Approach:
To help children learn the recommended “Functional and Efficient” pencil grasps, two grip designs were developed as a result of research, prototyping, and classroom testing. The first makes the most highly recommended grasps comfortable, while making improper grasps difficult. The second design is for later stages of development, where children will reliably try to use the correct grasps and require a less bulky grip.
There are several hand postures for using a writing utensil, known as “Functional and Efficient” grasps. Young children are inclined to hold things in ways that feel comfortable, but do not help them develop the muscles they need to write most efficiently. For example, the most common first grasp is the “palmer-supinate” grasp, where a child uses all of their fingers to hold the utensil like a dagger. The Stylus Writing Aid grips are uniquely designed to be comfortable for grips that are considered ideal while making less desirable grips difficult. This helps users develop the necessary muscles and coordination to write functionally and efficiently, directly helping them master general hand coordination tasks, such as typing or precision tool usage.
No existing stylus on the market encourages proper writing technique and dissuades improper grasps. Competing approaches have triangular prism bodies and light padding around the grip, which gently encourage a tripod grasp; however, they do not indicate or encourage the “Functional and Efficient” grasps. The most common child-specific stylus design is a very wide cylinder. Children enjoy this design because it encourages remaining at the first stage of writing development, the “palmar supinate” or dagger grasp.