Title:
Weighted bracelet for fine-motor activity
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A weighted bracelet for enhancing fine-motor activities such as writing, used by an individual with a fine-motor impairment, is disclosed. The bracelet provides a flexible string of predetermined length, with a plurality of magnetic beads disposed along the length of the string. A plurality of non-magnetic beads are interspersed along the string between the magnetic beads. When the bracelet is wrapped in a looping configuration about the forearm of the individual and proximal the wrist, the individual's fine-motor coordination is enhanced. Preferably, the bracelet is used for not more than two hours at one session, with at least a non-use period of twenty minutes before further usage. In preferred embodiments the non-magnetic beads are dispersed between adjoining magnetic beads in a ratio of two-to-one. In one embodiment, the total weight of the bracelet is about four ounces. In an alternative embodiment for smaller children, the bracelet has a total weight of three ounces.



Inventors:
Brack, Jenny Clark (Lawrence, KS, US)
Application Number:
11/526388
Publication Date:
03/27/2008
Filing Date:
09/25/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A44C5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAVINDER, JACK W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Stephen R. Robinson (5005 McCall St., Rockville, MD, 20853, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A weighted bracelet for use by an individual with a fine-motor impairment in a fine-motor manual activity, the bracelet comprising: (a) a flexible string having a predetermined length; (b) a plurality of magnetic beads disposed along the length of the string; and (c) a plurality of non-magnetic beads interspersed along the string between the magnetic beads in a ratio of two to one non-magnetic beads between adjoining magnetic beads, such that when the bracelet is wrapped in a looping configuration about the forearm of the individual and proximal the wrist, the individual's fine-motor coordination is enhanced.

2. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the string has a first end and a second end and further including: (a) a first end magnet disposed on the first end of the string; and (b) a second end magnet disposed on the second end of the string.

3. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the string presents a length-wise axis and each magnetic bead is substantially smooth and oblong, and presents a lengthwise axis co-linear with the string axis, each magnetic bead further presenting a bead length along the bead axis.

4. The bracelet of claim 3, wherein each non-magnetic bead is substantially spherical, and presents a radius less than half the axial length of each magnetic bead.

5. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the string is made of a synthetic resin and presents a diameter of 1 mm.

6. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the bracelet has a total weight of about four ounces.

7. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the bracelet has a total weight of about three ounces.

8. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the length of the string is about 41 and ¾ inches.

9. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the total number of magnetic beads is 46.

10. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein the weight of the bracelet is in a range between one and eight ounces.

11. The bracelet of claim 1, wherein a plurality of the beads include printed indicia.

12. A weighted bracelet for use by an individual with a fine-motor impairment in a fine-motor manual activity, the bracelet comprising: (a) a flexible, synthetic resin string having an unstretched length of 41 and ¾ inches, the string having a first end and a second end, the string presenting a length-wise axis; (b) a plurality of smooth, oblong, magnetic beads disposed along the length of the string, each magnetic bead presenting a lengthwise axis co-linear with the string axis, each magnetic bead further presenting a bead length along the bead axis; (c) a plurality of substantially spherical, non-magnetic beads interspersed along the string between the magnetic beads in a ratio of two non-magnetic beads between adjoining magnetic beads, each non-magnetic bead presenting a radius less than half the axial length of each magnetic bead; (d) a first end magnet disposed on the first end of the string; and (e) a second end magnet disposed on the second end of the string such that when the bracelet is wrapped in a looping configuration about the forearm of the individual and proximal the wrist, the individual's fine-motor coordination is enhanced.

13. The bracelet of claim 12, wherein the total number of magnetic beads is 46.

14. A method of enhancing fine-motor coordination in an individual with a fine-motor impairment, the method comprising: (a) providing a bracelet, the bracelet including, a flexible string having a predetermined length, a plurality of magnetic beads disposed along the length of the string, a plurality of non-magnetic beads interspersed along the string between the magnetic beads with at least one non-magnetic bead between each set of adjoining magnetic beads; and (b) wrapping the bracelet in a looping configuration about the forearm of the individual and proximal the wrist, whereby the individual's fine-motor coordination is enhanced.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the period for use of the bracelet is no more than about two hours.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the bracelet is used for up to two hours, then removed for at least about twenty minutes and then re-used for up to two hours.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to occupational therapy devices and more particularly to a bracelet for enhancing fine-motor coordination.

BACKGROUND

Writing and other fine-motor activities are particularly challenging for individuals with disabilities such as a hand tremor or diminished coordination. The result can be that individuals may be inhibited from performing such activities. Children with such disabilities may even be impeded from learning to write properly, leading to other educational difficulties. Some individuals present with poor sensory feedback in the proprioceptive system (receptors in muscles and tendons perceive contraction, compression and stretching), making it difficult to grade touch pressure in relation to objects, sense awareness of the body in space, have awareness of joint position, (position sense) and have awareness of movement (kinesthesia).

One attempt to deal with this issue has been to provide a weighted hand patch attached to the dorsal aspect of a glove, such as advertised in the 2006 catalog for Southpaw Enterprises of Dayton, Ohio, p. 103, or a five fingered weighted glove with the weight sewn inside the dorsal aspect of the hand in the 2005 catalog for Therapro of Framingham, Mass., p. 79. Such patches are worn on the hand either to build strength or to enhance proprioceptive feedback. However, such attempts necessarily entail a psychological drawback. The user is visually identified as using an article for a disability, thus potentially stigmatizing the individual and perhaps even causing the individual not to use the article. In addition, hand patches may be uncomfortable to wear because of the accumulation of perspiration, chafing or the like around the edges. Also the weighted gloves are difficult for children to don independently.

What is needed is a convenient article and method for enhancing the fine-motor skills of individuals with disabilities, yet one which is aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, convenient to don and wear and hence likely be used.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention solves the problems of the prior art by providing an aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, easily worn and secured bracelet for fine-motor activities such as writing. The bracelet provides a flexible string of predetermined length, with a plurality of magnetic beads disposed along the length of the string. A plurality of nonmagnetic beads are interspersed along the string between the magnetic beads. When the bracelet is wrapped in a looping configuration about the forearm of the individual and proximal the wrist, the individual's fine-motor coordination is enhanced. Preferably, the bracelet is used for not more than two hours at one session, with at least a non-use period of twenty minutes before further usage.

In preferred embodiments the nonmagnetic beads are dispersed between adjoining magnetic beads in a ratio of two-to-one. In one embodiment, the total weight of the bracelet is about four ounces. In an alternative embodiment for smaller children, the bracelet has a total weight of three ounces.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial side view showing a bracelet, worn on the wrist of a person holding a pencil, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the inventive bracelet;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a string;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of an alternative embodiment of the inventive bracelet, partially shown; and

FIG. 5 is a plan view of another alternative embodiment of the inventive bracelet, partially shown.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the drawings in general and FIG. 1 in particular, a bracelet 10 according to the present invention is shown being worn by a person 12 (partially shown). Person 12 has a forearm 14, wrist 16 and a hand 18. Person 12 is holding a pencil 20 in hand 18.

Referring to FIG. 2, bracelet 10 is shown in more detail. In particular, bracelet 10 includes a string 22 (see FIG. 3), a plurality of magnetic beads 24, a plurality of non-magnetic beads 26, a first end magnet 28, and a second end magnet 30. The preferred embodiment bracelet 10 includes a total of 46 magnetic beads 24, a total of 90 non-magnetic beads 26 and the total weight of bracelet 10 is about 4 ounces.

Referring to FIG. 3, string 22 has a first end 32, a second end 34, and has an unstretched length from first end 32 to second end 34 of about 41 and ¾ inches. String 22 is about one millimeter in diameter. String 22 presents a length-wise axis as indicated at reference numeral 36. String 22 is flexible and made of a synthetic resin. In particularly preferred embodiments, string 22 is the brand known as “Stretch Magic” made by Pepperell Braiding Company of Pepperell, Mass. Stretch Magic string is a latex-free, high-tech polymer which will not crack or harden over time.

Referring again to FIG. 2, magnetic beads 24 are preferably “rice beads” as known in the industry, i.e. beads of the illustrated shape and made of lodestone (magnetite), although any magnetic bead (e.g. hematite) may be substituted. Each magnetic bead 24 is substantially smooth and oblong and presents a length-wise axis as indicated at reference numeral 38, which is co-linear with string axis 36. Each magnetic bead 24 preferably presents a bead length of about ⅝ inch along bead axis 38.

Still referring to FIG. 2, non-magnetic beads 26 are preferably “Wonder beads,” as referred to in the industry, and are made of acrylic and have a diameter of 4 mm. Non-magnetic beads 26, as will be appreciated by inspection, will be interspersed along string 22 in between magnetic beads 24 in a ratio of two non-magnetic beads 26 to each adjoining magnetic bead 24 in the preferred embodiment. Each non-magnetic bead 26 is substantially spherical and preferably presents a radius less than half the axial length of each magnetic bead 24 (the radius of the preferred Wonder bead is 2 mm).

First end magnet 28 is disposed on first end 32 of string 22 (see FIG. 3). Likewise, second end magnet 30 is disposed on second end 34 of string 22 (see FIG. 3). Both first end magnet 28 and second end magnet 30 may be metallic or any other suitable material.

Referring to FIG. 4, an alternative bracelet 110 is illustrated. In particular, bracelet 110 of FIG. 4 is substantially identical with bracelet 10 of FIG. 1 except that a selected number of indicia beads 126 (substituted in manufacture for corresponding nonmagnetic beads 26) has printed indicia presented thereon. In the preferred embodiment, indicia beads 126 are made of acrylic or other plastic. In this fashion, a user's name, for example, such as “Jenny,” may be printed on bracelet 110.

Referring to FIG. 5, a second alternative bracelet 210 is similar to that of bracelet 10 in FIG. 2, except that the total number of magnetic beads 24 is 34 and the total number of non-magnetic beads 26 is 66. The total weight of bracelet 210 is about 3 ounces. The unstretched length of string 22 (see FIG. 3) for bracelet 210 is about 31 and ⅜ inches.

The use of bracelet 10 will now be discussed. The function of bracelets 110 and 210 will be exactly the same, except as otherwise noted. Bracelet 10 may be selected by a therapist, consultant, etc. In the embodiment of FIG. 2 as already noted, the total weight of bracelet 10 is about 4 ounces. However depending on the disability of a person 12, age, etc. a different weight may be chosen for the best therapeutic result. It is believed that the range of weight for reasonable therapeutic results is between one and eight ounces for the bracelet. The weight of 3 ounce bracelet 210 of FIG. 5 may be more appropriate for small children, for example, about age 5.

Referring to FIG. 1, bracelet 10 is wrapped around forearm 14 and proximal wrist 16 in the looping configuration as shown in FIG. 1. As person 12 begins to write with pencil 20 (or any other fine-motor activity which is desired), the proprioceptic effect occurs. In other words, the tactile sensation caused by bracelet 10, as well as the weight bearing load, means that person 12 will experience an enhanced coordination and thus perform better at fine-motor tasks. Because of the smooth shape of beads 24 and 26 (i.e., no facets or sharp points), the proprioceptic effect is optimized. Because of the 2-to-1 ratio of non-magnetic beads 26 to magnetic beads 24, sufficient flexibility of bracelet 10 is achieved for purposes of wrapping around forearm 14.

Generally, a 1-to-1 ratio of beads between magnetic beads 24 and non-magnetic beads 26 would not yield as desirable a level of flexibility. On the other hand, a 3-to 1 ratio of non-magnetic beads 26 to magnetic beads 24 would unduly lengthen bracelet 10 since most of the weight of bracelet 10 is attributable to magnetic beads 24. In this fashion, person 12 may engage in writing or other fine-motor activities for a time period optimally no more about two hours. At the end of that session, at least about 20 minutes of non-use is desirable, i.e. bracelet 10 is unwrapped and removed from forearm 14. Otherwise, the therapeutic effect of bracelet 10 may become greatly diminished.

After a non-use period of at least 20 minutes the process may be repeated for another two hour use period. This pattern may be repeated many times during the day so that several two hour sessions could be performed in one 24 hour period.

It should be apparent that the invention not only accomplishes the major functions required from such articles but does so in a particularly advantageous manner. It should be equally apparent, however, that various minor and equivalent modifications from the embodiments disclosed herein for illustrative purposes could be employed without departing from the essence of the invention. It is to be understood, therefore, that the invention should be regarded as encompassing not only the subject matter literally defined by the claims which follow, but also technical equivalents thereof.