Izzy Mokotoff, a student at Northwestern University, used to get weekly handwritten letters from her grandfather.
Then, his tremors worsened from Parkinson’s disease, and the beloved letters became too difficult to write – a disappointment Mokotoff shared with her sorority sister and fellow junior, Alexis Chan.
“And she was like, Well, why don’t we create something? You know, there are all these resources at Northwestern, we could really make something of this,” Mokotoff said.
The pair teamed up at “The Garage,” NU’s entrepreneurial hub and has been working on their project, the SteadyScrib Parkinson’s Pen set, for more than a year. The set includes a regular ball point pen encased in 3D-printed plastic, a board with a thin steel coating and several magnets to hold the paper in place.
With a patent pending, they can’t reveal all the mechanics, but magnets are key.
“We have a magnet in the tip of the pen and that pairs with the steel backing (on a board) and that really just snaps the pen in place, holds it down and allows you to write steady,” Chan said.
Mokotoff sent her grandfather one of the original prototypes to try it out.
“And he was able to write with it a couple of times write me letters with it, which was so impactful, and he was able to give us feedback on how to improve the design,” Mokotoff said.
The magnets to hold the paper in place were his idea. The pair have also attended other support groups for Chicago-area Parkinson’s patients to get additional suggestions.
“Every time I meet people, it just drives me, and that’s what really drives me to keep iterating, keep improving the pen with this feedback. And we just want to get this pen into as many hands of people with Parkinson’s as possible,” Chan said.
Mokotoff and Chan will take the SteadyScrib to two more Parkinson’s support groups in April for more feedback, and they hope to move toward a final product soon.
“We still are looking for a manufacturer to partner with and are hopeful we’ll find the right fit soon,” Mokotoff said.
SteadyScrib has an online waitlist, which is already 500 people long.
Sadly, Mokotoff’s grandfather isn’t one of them. He passed away in December 2022, but Izzy knows he’s still with her every step of the way.
“I think he’d be excited about the progress that we’re making and hopeful that we’ll be able to, you know, really put it on the market soon,” Mokotoff said.
To join the waitlist, click here.