Introduction: Steady Hand: Mouse Control for Folks With Parkinson's
About two years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which, as many of you know, not only causes tremors but can interfere with fine motor control of the hands, feet and other parts of the body. As the disease progresses it can severely impede computer usage because of the inability to control a mouse and/or keyboard controls. Until it is lost, one does not realize how much coordination and muscle control is involved in simply scrolling a mouse wheel, moving an on screen cursor, or “clicking” at the exact right moment when the cursor is hovering over its target.
As my own disease progressed I discovered it helped to simply place the weight of my left hand on top of my mouse operating right hand. This calmed a good deal of the random and uncontrollable movement. Unfortunately, many of the tasks I do on the computer require keyboard operation with the left hand while the mouse is being operated with the right. In addition, two handed mouse operation can become tiring and awkward.
After some initial experimentation with just a zip-lock baggie filled with tiny pebbles and slung over my hand to keep it “calm” I made this weighted glove...actually two gloves, one glued on top of the other, to steady my hand. While it doesn’t restore “pre-Parkinson’s” small motor skills, it does help reduce the herky jerky movement of my right hand and has improved my mouse operating abilities while relieving a lot of my frustrations with the disease.
Gloves - Two pair of lightweight, thin fabric gloves - I got mine at Home Depot
BB’s - I used the 30 ounce (2400 count) package of Daisy BB’s from Wal Mart.
Fabric Glue - I used Sobo brand glue from Hobby Lobby
Staples or needle and thread.
Step 1: Step 1: Glue the Gloves Together
Unfortunately you need two pairs of gloves to make one “Steady Glove”. Two right hand gloves if you operate your mouse with the right hand or two left hand gloves if you are a lefty. Spread the glue generously on the top side of the glove that will go on your hand. I found it best NOT to glue the thumbs of the gloves together. Put the lower glove (the one with the glue on it) on your hand and press the second glove into the glue while positioning the upper glove. As the glue begins to dry, remove the glove and lay it on a flat surface. Place a heavy book or weight on top of the two gloves and let them dry.
Step 2: Step 2: Fill and Close the Upper Glove
Once the glue has dried, pour all the BB’s into the upper glove. You’ll need to stop from time to time to work the BB’s down into each finger and the thumb. The 30 ounce pack of BB’s seemed to do the trick for me. You may need to increase or decrease that weight depending on the severity of your tremors or control issues. With the BB’s in the upper glove, fold over the open end of the glove and sew, staple or glue it shut so the BB’s can’t escape.
Step 3: Step 3: Test It Out
Your “Steady Hand” should look something like this first photo. Note that the weight in the upper thump simply drapes over the thumb side of the glove. This seems to work better and provides a little more freedom of movement (at least for me) than trying to glue the thumb in place.
The Steady Hand glove can be used pretty much as you would normally operate the scroll wheel and mouse buttons. You may need to experiment with different glove thicknesses to insure you can feel the wheel and buttons. I found these Home Depot work gloves worked well, but everyone’s sense of touch is different. The Steady Hand WILL take some getting used to and you will probably get some inadvertent clicks at the beginning just due to the extra weight on top of each of your fingers. I found that the more I use and wear the glove, the more adept I get with the mouse. Also, the glove is not going to totally restore your “pre-Parkinson’s” mouse agility or speed. So you’ll need to learn to make your mouse movements at a slightly slower pace and with a little more deliberation. But the good news is you can regain some steady and smooth mouse control and stay productive at your computer tasks.
Be sure to let us know if you try this out and especially if you make some improvements with the design.