Torn Rotator Cuff – one patient’s story. . .

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Thomas M. Clark, DDS practicing his new skills
Thomas M. Clark, DDS practicing his new skills on a simulated patient, after physical therapy.

Here’s a snippet from an inspiring blog by Tom Clark about his recovery from a Torn Rotator Cuff. We see many people starting over with their handwriting tasks and recovering from difficult surgery is just one example:

Handwriting For Heroes presents a 6 week long series of work book pages similar to the ways we were taught in elementary school, but written and designed for adults. Through the lessons of loops and swirls, coloring and copying; the authors provide you with exercises that strengthen both the fine motor muscles as well as the hand eye coordination needed to write. Just like the McGuffey Readers of the old days the repetition is not idle, most of the sentences that you copy offer encouraging words to brighten your day and strengthen your resolve.

I faithfully went through the book from cover to cover, and I can say that the improvement in my hand skills was dramatic. I still write like a doctor, but less so than before my surgery.

I give the book my highest recommendation. It should be on the list of must haves for anyone going though something similar to my experience.

You can follow Thomas. M. Clark, DDS and his ongoing recovery on his Facebook page as well as his blog.

Thixotropic, a Quality Pen for Arthritic Writers

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From time to time, we will feature posts about products and ideas that we think will help people with handwriting issues.  View the full Kickstarter campaign here

Thixotropic, a Quality Pen for Arthritic Writers

by Chad Wooters

A fine writing instrument elegantly designed for the specific needs of people with arthritis, hand pain, or tremors.

A fine writing instrument elegantly designed for the specific needs of people with arthritis, hand pain, or tremors.

About this project

THIXOTROPIC – A PEN TO WRITE WITH STYLE AND EASE

My wife has had arthritis since she was 13. For years she has tried all kinds of pens with foam grips, ergonomic shapes, etc. These don’t work. What does work are “Super Big Fat Pens”. Working users of weighted and wide barrel pens, I have designed a fine writing instrument specifically to meet the needs of people with arthritis – people who also value quality and appreciate aesthetics

Apart from its therapeutic value, a Thixotropic pen does not look like a medical device. Its elegantly curved profile and sleek black finish provides an attractive alternative to slide-on plastic pencil grips, foam tubes, odd “ergonomic” shapes, and mass market pens.

Thixotropic pens are fine writing instruments that patients can proudly use to recover their joy and pleasure of handwriting. Even if you do not have arthritis, this jumbo pen will be a sexy and unique addition to your pen collection.

The TECHNICAL STUFF

Several studies have shown that grasp patterns do not significantly influence handwriting speed or legibility. With a big fat pen, patients can choose the grip style best suited to them instead of “ergonomic” shapes that force their fingers into the standard dynamic tripod grasp. Using the Thixotropic pen, occupational therapists can guide patients to adopt comfortable grip postures that reduce concentrated pressures on the distal and proximal interphalangeal joints and relieve symptoms of fatigue.

Alternative Grips Using the Thixotropic Pen
Alternative Grips Using the Thixotropic Pen

Thixotropic pens solve the two main components that interfere with handwriting performance. First, their wide tapered grip area is approximately 1-inch (2.54 cm) in diameter. Most patients who have difficulty with grasping and/or pinching find this size easier to hold than other commercially available pens. The slightly textured powder-coat finish prevents the pen from slipping. Second, internal weights can be adjusted to alter the pen’s center of gravity. A forward balance passively holds the pen’s point to the writing surface so that patients are not required to exert excessive pressure. Thixotropic pens use a refillable Monteverde ballpoint ink cartridge that reduces friction between the pen’s tip and the writing surface. Less force is needed for fluid writing motions.

“YOU WILL NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING IF ALL YOU WANT OUT OF LIFE IS A PEN!” 

A little background about me: For spending money my brother and I weeded Iowa soybean fields manually with garden hoes. It was hot, tedious labor and my 16 year old brother, tried to break the monotony by talking about the new car he was going to buy with his “bean-walking” money. When he was done elaborating on his plans, he asked me how I planned to spend my money.

As a nine year old, my wants were simple. I wanted a pen. Not just any pen though. I wanted the Flair UltraFine felt-tip which was introduced to the market around 1974-75. With its sharp, thin, and decisive line, it was something I just had to have. My brother didn’t see it that way. If all I wanted out of life was a pen, then as far as he was concerned, I wouldn’t amount to anything and he told me as much, right there in the middle of a field under the hot summer sun. I cried all the way home.

Since then I have drawn portraits with sepia taken directly from squid ink sacs and written love poems with a gold-tipped Mont Blanc. While there is no ‘perfect’ pen, each mark-making task calls for the most fitting tool. This is a pleasure I wish to extend even to those for whom the act of writing can be painful and difficult. This project matters and makes the world a little bit more elegant and joyful.

Please pledge your support.

Risks and challenges

WE’VE ALREADY STARTED!

Much of the ground-work for this project has already been completed. Users of the commodity pen that inspired this project have provided extensive feedback about their wants and needs for a premium product. The essential therapeutic features have been identified and incorporated into the prototype.

THE PEOPLE ARE IN PLACE!

Most of the project partners have already been identified. The parts will be manufactured by a Chicago-based precision machine shop with CNC capacities. A local not-for-profit that provides employment for the disabled will perform the final assembly and packaging. The supply chain for the advancing and retraction mechanism and ink cartridges has been secured.

ALL WE NEED IS YOU!

The scheduled ship date of final product to Kickstarter backers is expected to occur around August 1, 2016. The production schedule will be as follows:

April 1 to April 30 – pre-production prototypes to optimize mass production processes and for package design.

June 1 to July 30 – Initial production run of loose parts. Order packaging.

August 1 to August 31 – Assemble parts into final product and consumer packaging.

 

Handwriting for Heroes 3rd Ed. now available!

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Thanks to the feedback we have received from everyone on the earlier editions of Handwriting For Heroes, we are pleased to announce the 3rd Edition. This edition is available now directly from the publisher.

$22.95

Amazon.com now stocks the 3rd Edition .  Bookstores can order direct from the publisher or from New Leaf Distributing.  H4H remains the only program specifically directed towards adult re-learners.

Highlights of the 3rd Edition include

  • Revised and updatd exercises structured for either cursive or print (manuscript) re-learning.
  • Positive psychology exercises to promote optimism and
    resiliency in your daily life.

As always, we invite Certified Hand Therapists to request a complimentary evaluation copy to learn whether Handwriting For Heroes is right for your clients.  Write to victor@LHPress.com and be sure to include your complete mailing address.

Radiation Induced Brachial Plexopathy (RIBP) and Handwriting

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Radiation-Induced Brachial Plexopathy (RIBP) is a progressive and painful paralysis of the arm and shoulder, brought on by radiation treatment for breast cancer and certain other cancers. With improvements in radiation technology, RIBP is rare these days, but can still occur when multiple overlapping radiation fields or high radiation doses are used. It most often involves lymphedema of the affected arm and, like lymphedema, RIBP can develop at any time following radiation treatment of the area. There is no cure, though interventions are possible to slow progression, optimize remaining arm and hand function, control related lymphedema, and relieve pain.

RIBP survivors are often left unable to use their dominant hand for normal function. Recently, Step-Up/Speak Out reviewed Handwriting For Heroes in the context of RIBP.  Step-Up/Speak Out’s Director Bonnie Pike wrote:  “We are very impressed with Handwriting For Heroes.”See blogs and businesses for USA

Katie and Kristen on Inside Scoop Live Show

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Juanita Watson, host of Inside Scoop Live, interviewed Katie Yancosek and Kristen Gulick on her show recently.  This 40-minute segment covered a wide range of issues about handwriting, the nature of handed-ness, and transfer of skills/rehabilitation.

You can Download the MP3 file  and listen on your iPod
or click on the audio-player bar below to listen immediately.

Extra Credit assignments posted

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You remember those extra credit assignments that your teacher used to give to those students eager to go the extra mile? Here are some additional opportunities to hone your new writing skills.  Katie and Kristin have prepared a series of worksheets (in PDF) that you can download and work on at your own pace.  See the complete list

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