Introduction: "Grapho-Sphere" Assistive Writing Aid

Grapho-Sphere translates to 'Writing-Ball' and is an assistive writing tool for persons who cannot fully move digits in hand, do have some gross motor skills but lack ability to develop fine motor skills and have cognitive ability and desire to sign own name when required to do so.

Foam of desired density (I’m using a foam football that was perfect)
Large bread knife
Small paring or steak knife
Tape measure/ruler
Index card
Small stick/toothpick (I used a small Alen Key)

Individual A (person for who i made the tool):
Can’t grasp a pencil/pen
Can loosely grasp a large marker
Can (due to resistance in hand function and foam density) hold a soft rubber/foam ball

Depending on a persons degree of ability the ball can be made with different foam densities. I chose a medium soft foam for the individual after having them test it out.

Also pictured are my original sketches.

Step 1: Measure & Divide

First I measured the palm of the persons hand that I was designing the tool for. It was 3 inches.

I then marked the 3 inches onto the index card and made a 3x3 square.

I cut the football in half between the middle to laces, I sawed with the bread knife. 

Step 2: Cut

Once in half I used the 3x3 card to trace a square on the newly cut face on the football. Now we’re only using half of the football so the other half can be put aside to be used later.

Now I cut along the squares lines towards the point of the football, as straight as I could. I came out with an angled rectangle.

I then placed the 3x3 card on the rectangle, starting at the front where we first cut our football in half, and traced another square. I cut off the end of the football.

Step 3: From 'Square' to Sphere

Next I freehand drew a circle onto two adjacent sides of the square. I cut out both circles and ended up with a crude sphere.

I took the misshapen sphere to the person I was making it for to see how well it fit in their hand. I checked to see if it was still too large or too small. It was a good fit, I took note of how and where their fingers grasped it. The person has two contracted fingers with very limited movement and the ball pushed outwards on them.

Step 4: Making It Personal

I took it back and began reshaping it with scissors, making sure to try and smooth out any large points and divots in the foam. I also took into consideration the persons two contracted fingers and made an alteration to modify the sphere for them. The ‘grapho-sphere’ or assistive writing ball is now personalized to fit the person’s hand.

Step 5: Fitting the Pen

At the bottom of the ball I drew a small X which I then made a shallow cut into it. You want to keep the cut shallow so the foam hugs the writing tool. I then used my Alen Key (or toothpick) to poke a 2 inch hole into the foam.

I then inserted a pen (bottom side first) and slowly pushed it in until it pressed onto the other side of the ball where I made another X cut to let it slide through. The pen is now firmly secured into the ball and can be used with much force and not move it out.

Step 6: Write With Confidence!

The pen can now be grasped with ease and allow the person to independently sign their name to documents with confidence.

I did all the modeling, not the individual for whom it was made.

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