It is always frustrating when I see kids that have such weak hands and fingers that they hyper-extend, and none of the usual tools and methods help. I want to help them to be able to participate. If they weren’t having to work so hard at keeping a hold on their pencil, they might be able to work on classroom writing activities much better. That is why I have created a new pencil grip called the Ishy Sail Pencil Grip.
To solve this problem, I started making pencil grips out of play doh, clay, and model magic. Model magic worked the best for me to as a trial to see if I could get the hand to comfortable hold the pencil. It is not a sturdy material though, and one kid immediately shredded it. It is also impossible to sculpt it exactly the same every time.
I took my clay trials to the next step by making molds out of spare splinting material and using silicone putty from Michaels to press into the molds. It kind of worked, but it was not easy or efficient. It did help me try out different shapes to see which would be most beneficial, and to have the kids use it for an extended period of time.
I kept coming back to a specific shape of grip, and it seemed to block the thumb hyper-extension the best. It has a curved shelf that the thumb is on, which keeps the thumb in a gentle curve. I made the design so that it facilitates a regular tripod grasp, and also so that it could easily and naturally be held in the modified grasp (pencil between the index and middle finger) as well since that grasp is the most efficient when it comes to muscle use. So once I knew the shape that I needed to make it, I made molds out of plastic, and pour high quality skin safe silicone into the molds so that they are the same every time.
My daughter has hyper-mobile joints, and she hyper-extends at the DIPs of her index and middle finger when she writes. The hyper-extension hand not caused problems during elementary and high school, but now that she is in college, she has daily pain in her fingers. She has started wearing ring splints for this, but the large pencil grip cradles her fingers perfectly so that she can write without pain and no hyper-extension. The Ishy Sail Grip is great for people with arthritis and hand weakness, and it is perfect to hold the pencil in both a regular grasp or with the modified grasp (pencil between index and middle finger).
The Ishy Sail pencil grip has been used with kids with joint and finger weakness with great success. It will likely not be the perfect fit for everyone as nothing can fix everything, but I am excited to hear about who it helps and the different populations that it does work for.