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g Ergonomics Site

BellaOnline's Ergonomics Editor

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A Review of Ergonomically-Designed Pens

Guest Author - Marji Hajic


A review of pens designed with ergonomics in mind.

STICK-STYLE PENS

Dr. Grip

Pilot produced the Dr. Grip pen, the first ergonomically-designed pen available to the general market, in 1995. The Dr. Grip is designed to relieve writing stress and fatigue for those with disabilities that impact writing ability (for example: arthritis, repetitive strain injuries). It is a wide-barreled pen with a cushioned, soft-rubber grip. The larger grip reduces the amount of force needed to hold the pen. The rubber provides a bit of traction that also reduces the force needed to hold the pen. This pen is recommended by the Arthritis Foundation for Ease-of-Use. It is available in a ballpoint pen, gel-ink pen, rolling ball pen, mechanical pencil, and multi-function (combined mechanical pencil and retractable ball-point pen).


  • PRO - This is a standard, stick-style pen modified for comfort with a wide barrel and a soft, rubber grip. Its design reduces writing fatigue and stress. The Dr. Grip is readily available in brick-and-mortar stores and online. Refills are standard and easily available. The cost of the Dr. Grip pen has come down since its introduction to mid-range.
  • CON – This is a good, gold-standard pen. If you are in the market for a stick-style, ergonomically-designed pen, there are no cons associated with the Dr. Grip.



    EZGrip

    The EZGrip pen is one of the newer ergonomically-designed pens on the market. It is manufactured by Dexterity Technologies Corporation with the purpose of restoring writing ease to those with hand and finger problems. This pen is a conventional, wide-body stick design with an innovative, rubberized saddle. The finger saddle has a ledge on which one finger sits to apply downward writing pressure. The standard three-finger pinch required to write is minimized. Studies have shown that this pen requires 57% less force than a standard pen to use and is 50% more controllable than a standard pen with the same amount of downward pressure. This pen design was awarded the National Health & Wellness Club Seal of Approval and was favorably reviewed by the American Arthritis Foundation. It is available as a ballpoint and as a gel-ink pen. The company also produces EZGrip rubberized saddles that can be placed on pencils, standard stick-style pens, scalpels and other pencil-like tools.


    • PRO - This is personally one of my favorite ergonomically-designed pens. You can immediately feel the difference in force needed for writing. I have recommended it in the clinic for those recuperating from repetitive strain injuries. It is a lightweight splint that writes smoothly.
    • CON - This is a great pen for RSIs; however, If you have any finger tip (DIP) instability or arthritis, this may not be the pen for you. I found that the saddle tends to push the index finger tip into hyperextension. The company was very responsive in providing information on alternative holds for the pen. Using the middle finger in the saddle and being watchful about using a very light grip seemed to help.

      Vendor ’s Site - Dexterity Technologies Corporation

    BIC XXL

    The BIC XXL is an extra-wide body pen with soft foam grip makes writing smooth and comfortable. This is one of my favorite standard-style pens. It is easily available and inexpensive. I have recommended this one often in the clinic.



    PaperMate PhD

    The PaperMate PhD is a wide barrel pen with a comfortable, triangular rubber grip. Normally, I would not recommend a triangular grip because of contact pressure against the edges, but this has softer, rounder edges than most. The PhD uses a “lubriglide” ink system that provides smooth writing.




    ALTERNATIVE DESIGNS

    PenAgain

    The PenAgain was launched in 2002 by Pacific Writing Instruments. The primary focus of development is to improve writing comfort. The index finger fits through the saddle of this Y-shaped pen and rests in a shallow groove allowing the weight of the hand to hold the tip of the pen in place. No grip is needed so writing tension is reduced. These pens now feature a pocket clip, a retractable cap, a new easy refill system and streamlined ergonomics. They are available in the original plastic or a soft rubberized texture. Current products available in the PenAgain design include pens, highlighters and markers. The company has plans to develop a children’s pencil, dry erase markers, mechanical pencil, and a hobby knife. The pens are currently available online with plans to debut in WalMart and Office Depot in May 2007.


    • PRO - The fingers are held in a relaxed position. No grip is required. These pens will soon become available in brick-and-mortar stores.
    • CON - Because this pen design veers from the traditional stick-style pen, there is a learning curve for its use. Writing can initially feel awkward and clumsy. The pen also requires special ink refills.




    Evo.Pen

    The Evo.Pen is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The manufacturer, Evo.Pen, Inc., calls its pen the first viable alternative to the stick pen for those who have difficulty writing. The pen is a short, wide, kidney-shaped pen that fits snugly in the palm of the hand and contours to the shape of the fingers. The central axis of the Evo.Pen is within the hand and allows the instrument to swivel 60 degrees increasing the usable range of motion up to 50%. This pen has received a commendation from the Arthritis Foundation for Ease-of-Use. The pen is available in its original version, in a lightweight version and in a new retractable and disposable clicker.


    • PRO – The Evo.Pen is portable, comfortable, and eases writing for those with arthritis and other painful hand conditions. This is one of the least expensive ergonomically designed pens on the market.
    • CON – Because this pen veers away from the traditional stick-style pen design, it can initially feel awkward while using. This pen is available only through specialty catalogs and online. It also requires special ink refills.



    RingPen

    The RingPen is manufactured by Grandee Corporation. The company states that this is an ergonomically designed pen that is fluid in writing and fatigue free. If is a modified stick-pen design that widens in the middle with a hole through which the index finger sits – as if putting on a ring. It eliminates the typical three finger pinch typically required to hold a pen, relaxes the fingers and reduces hand fatigue when writing. The center of gravity of the pen coincides with the point of support reducing the force and effort needed to control the pen. The RingPen is a ball-point pen. It can be used as a stylus for PDAs when a soft cap is placed over the tip.


    • PRO – This pen eliminates the need for a three-point pinch when writing. It is a good pen for those who have a tendency to squeeze a pen tightly. It is also good for those who need to multi-task, as the pen can be swung around on the finger to alternate between writing and typing without causing awkward finger positioning on the keyboard.
    • CON – Although this is a good product, in my opinion, the website for this pen attempts to use carpal tunnel syndrome scare tactics to sell the pen. Some of the information presented is inaccurate. This pen is only available online and costs a bit more than some of the other ergonomically designed pens.




    TYPES OF INK

    Ballpoint Pens

    • PRO
      • Last longer
      • Ink flows smoothly
      • Do not smudge
    • CON
      • Requires more force for writing

    Rollerball Pens
    • PRO
      • Requires less writing force
    • CON
      • Ink is water-based and may smudge
      • Uses ink more quickly
      • May dry more quickly
      • Can seep through thinner paper
      • May ink randomly and skip
    Gel Pens
    • PRO
      • Requires less writing force
    • CON
      • May ink randomly and skip
      • Gel dries quickly
      • Particular about writing surface and paper


    For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.



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Content copyright © 2014 by Marji Hajic. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Marji Hajic. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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