Wearables
Girl Scouts develop prosthetic writing tool

An entry by Iowa Girl Scout robotics team, the Flying Monkeys, to the FIRST Lego League competition wins major award. Consulting with prosthetics maker and occupational therapist, the group developed a device for kids with a limb difference that are learning to write. The device is called BOB-1 and consists of a platform with a cylindrical stylus holder. [via Gizmodo]

20 thoughts on “Girl Scouts develop prosthetic writing tool

  1. OK, I admire the sentiment behind this but why wouldn’t this child simply write with her left hand?

  2. That is a good question! As a therapist practicing Occupational Therapy I can tell you that handed-ness is not as simple as it seems. If she can use a tool to write with the hand her brain prefers, then why not provide her with that tool instead of asking her brain to change its natural preference? More importantly, giving her a tool that will enables her to use her right arm in normal functional activity allows her brain to develop more naturally. Participating in bilateral activities is an essential part of brain development. The more functional activities she can learn to do with that right arm now, the fewer neurologically based issues she will have to deal with later.

    1. I understand your point, but practically speaking, she will not always have access to this gizmo. She will still have to do every other life task with her left hand (brushing her teeth, using a key, etc). So it just makes perfect sense to have her use her left hand. She is young enough that her brain will adapt without too many problems.

      Occupational Therapy I’m sure usually applies to injuries received to an older patient, unlike Developmental Therapy which would apply more to this little girl…

      1. My daughter, born with a limb difference, received 9 years of occupational therapy and physical therapy. Kids need therapy and they need access to this device if they are like my daughter, it would have made a ton of difference for her. She could learn to use her left hand when she didn’t have the device, but for a lot of writing, like in school- she’d always have access. And, frankly, it isn’t cumbersome or difficult to carry with her so she’d have it.

      2. Occupational Therapists work with people in all stages of life — from neonatal on through geriatrics. The scope of practice is a little mind-boggling, actually. Shriner’s Hospital employs thousands of OTs to work with children and help them get through the developmental stages, and I was fortunate enough to do this at one time in my life. This little girl will not always have access to this “gizmo”‘ but she will always have her brain…right? Using her hands bilaterally does not only have an impact on her hands. The way that her brain develops depends on using both sides of her body. If she only uses her left hand — which I am sure she will use for most of her functional activity, especially as she gets older — then it can be detrimental to her coordination of her legs…because the two halves of the brain are not interacting in normal developmental patterns. Most people don’t understand what OT is about — unless they have benefited from it personally. We need to have better PR! :) That is why I like to clear up misunderstandings like this when I come across them.

      3. Also, if she is not bearing weight through her left arm — not receiving proprioceptive input through the limb — she could suffer from muscular atrophy and have some significant shoulder problems in her future. She is only missing her hand…not her whole arm. Why not use it instead of ignoring it?

  3. Because- is she is like my daughter with limb differences, “dominance” cannot be changed and if you can’t use the dominant side, then you get to deal with some crazy learning challenges. Always better to work with the brain than against it.

  4. Occupational Therapists work with people in all stages of life — from neonatal on through geriatrics. The scope of practice is a little mind-boggling, actually. Shriner’s Hospital employs thousands of OTs to work with children and help them get through the developmental stages, and I was fortunate enough to do this at one time in my life. This little girl will not always have access to this “gizmo”‘ but she will always have her brain…right? Using her hands bilaterally does not only have an impact on her hands. The way that her brain develops depends on using both sides of her body. If she only uses her left hand — which I am sure she will use for most of her functional activity, especially as she gets older — then it can be detrimental to her coordination of her legs…because the two halves of the brain are not interacting in normal developmental patterns. Most people don’t understand what OT is about — unless they have benefited from it personally. We need to have better PR! :) That is why I like to clear up misunderstandings like this when I come across them.

  5. seems a bit of a waste, an elastic band or a bit of tape would do the same job as this thing
    my guess is nobody wanted to say it was rubbish and hurt the girl scouts feelings

    1. In the case of a severed limb there are medical issues involved that are complex. An elastic band or tape would not be secure enough insure appropriate positioning for writing, and can cause real problems with circulation and skin integrity. This is an impressive project. There aren’t any flashing lights or cool sounds, but it is still a big deal.

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