AMMAN — “People with cerebral palsy [CP] have the exact same brain capacities as you and me. However, they are often isolated from the rest of society because they cannot communicate properly,” explained 16-year-old Leen Khasawneh.
The high school student created the “Ergo-Egg”, a writing aid device that allows people suffering from the cerebral disorder to communicate in spite of their physical impairment.
“When I realised that people with CP have completely functional brains and that only some parts of their body are stuck, I thought ‘that’s crazy! Why can’t they be part of society just like anyone else?’” Khasawneh told The Jordan Times at the Amman Design Week where her invention was exhibited.
Cerebral palsy is a collection of neurological disorders caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the brain at birth or later in life that primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination, according to online sources.
Although she does not know anyone who suffers from CP personally, the young girl was shocked by the situation people with the neurological condition tend to end up in and was inspired to create the Ergo-Egg.
“In Jordan, there is a lot of stigma around the issue of CP and there is not much support for people with CP. We need to understand that there is nothing wrong with suffering from cerebral palsy or any other impairment,” she stated, noting that she struggled to find the resources she needed for her research.
Khasawneh finally got hold of experts in the field who explained to her how people with CP tend to wrap tape multiple times around their hand to have a proper grip on the pen and be able to write.
The high school student went on to create a “simple” solution to help people with CP communicate with others and, ultimately, become more involved in society.
“Although some solutions exist in other countries, they are all technology reliant and therefore expensive or dependent on electricity,” she explained, adding “I wanted to create something that was not only simple but also cheap and accessible to everyone.”
Citing the motor ability classification system used to identify degrees of CP severity, she explained that she created a tailored device that can help people “who never thought about the idea of holding a pen before”.
“This condition does not get worse over time so all we have to do is help them access the same opportunities as we do naturally,” she stressed, noting that her current device is tailored for children around five years-old as this is the age at which people learn to write.
Khasawneh met the very first person with CP at the Amman Design Week exhibition. She recalled: “It was amazing to see how such a simple device could actually help him so much! I really do believe in the power of writing, and how much something that seems so small to us can make a great impact on someone else’s life.”
“My aim now is to expand the Ergo-Egg to the multiple cerebral palsy hand positions and to ergonomically suit older ages, so that this device can help a much wider range of people,” the young student concluded.
© Jordan Times 2017