Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over the years due to degeneration of dopamine, a chemical that sends signals to enable the body to move. It can be difficult for Parkinson’s patients to openly talk about their condition, and for others to empathise with their struggles. To break the empathy barrier, the Empathy Pen offers an approachable way for anyone to learn about hand tremors, one of the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The pen is also intended to educate students and teachers about the disease. Using the tool will be the starting point of learning empathy.
Conventionally, disease education is done through diagnosis or text-ba-sed health information. However, this does not make it any easier to fully understand the disease. Learning empathy through tools that give users first-hand experience of any disease will enable people to fully build sympathy towards patients, therefore fostering a healthier stigma-free relationship between disease sufferers and the rest of the community.
The familiar tool of a pen gives makes the object easy to use. When the pen is turned on via the bu-tton, the pen starts to vibrate and simulates hand tremors. It will be difficult for the hand to write and this process emulates the difficulties Parkinson’s sufferers have to go through in their daily lives. The vibration of the pen is caused by the deliberate unbalancing of the motor, which is placed slightly off centre from the main core of the pen. The turn stick, placed horizontally on top, needs to continuously rotate like a fan for the motor to produce motions of tremor. A pom-pom is attached to the end of the stick to prevent injuries while proving a warm aesthetic to the tool.
Oklim Lee , United States