History Of Invention
The ZoncoArm was originally developed to give a physically challenged 4th grade student greater independence in operating his aug-comm devise. The student was quite bright, but he could neither speak nor control his hands well enough to operate his keyboard independently. In order for him to communicate, either an occupational therapist or one of his parents had to literally hold his hands over his keyboard and try to figure out which keys he wanted his fingers to press. This was a very time consuming process for his assistants and a less than optimal learning environment for the student. His occupational therapists asked Andrew Berglund to design a devise that would support and stabilize the student's hands so he could operate his aug-comm devise independently.
Berglund accepted the challenge, developed a prototype, made several refinements, and finally presented the prototype to the 4th grader. It worked perfectly, and the student was just thrilled with his newly found independence. The physical therapists were delighted that their work was just made much easier, and more efficient.
An article about the new arm support's development was published in Closing the Gap magazine. In that article one of the student's occupational therapists summed things up as follows: "The device designed to assist a student with physical disabilities could also be a helpful tool for others with upper limb discoordination. Conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, and many neurological disorders leave the afflicted individual with arm and hand tremors that limit their ability to use their fingers and arms for precise movement. (Berglund's new arm support devise) can stabilize the hand for depressing individual keys, and improve independence of the user." After that article was published, a reader contacted Berglund and requested his help for her 14-year old son. His disability was more severe than the 4th grader's, and required Berglund to completely redesign his original prototype. The redevelopment process was worth it all to hear the mother's heart-felt appreciation when she said: "Now for the first time Zack can choose his own words, and invent his own sentences." The heartfelt emotion in her gratitude and appreciation was so moving, it launched Berglund into thinking about changing careers, developing new a business, and selling his products nationally.
The ZoncoArm has the potential to change lives and bring new independence to many physically challenged people. It can also bring more productivity and ergonomic safety to many different work environments. The entire developmental process was a deeply gratifying experience, and produced a good first product for an expanding line of assistive durable medical equipment.
Zonco Mobile Arm Valet
Work got started on the Zonco Mobile Arm Valet in the Fall of 2003 as a result of requests from occupational therapists Berglund talked with at the first trade show he exhibited his Zonco Arm Support. They were generally unimpressed with the feeder device products on the market, and they all seemed to agree that he could develop a superior design.
Work began shortly after Berglund got home from the trade show. By January 2004 he started showing his new product to a small number of occupational therapists. Berglund was encouraged by their feedback, and kept improving his design. As changes were made his progress was evaluated. A handgrip that could hold a spoon was added to the pivoting arm trough. Then a pointer/pencil holder was added to the handgrip. It just kept getting better and better. An adjustable spring assist was added so the trough could move vertically as it pivoted up and down. This changed its whole dynamic, and made its functionality much more natural. It changed the product from being just an assistive device to also becoming a first class therapeutic device.
Berglund then started working on an attachment that could replace the hand grip and hold various devices such as electric toothbrushes, shavers, etc. This turned out to be remarkably practical and versatile; making it possible for many more disabled individuals to brush their own teeth, shave, etc. Berglund also developed a much better design for a swivel-spoon than what was currently on the market. Then came the development of the pizza/hamburger holder attachment. After all the new changes and attachment designs turned out to be so functional and versatile, it only seemed appropriate to name it Zonco Mobile Arm Valet.
Portable ZoncoArm Support
Work got started on the Portable Zonco Arm Support in the spring of 2005 as a result of requests from those who liked the Zonco Arm Support, but needed more portability. Previous models of mobile arm supports have all been limited to where they could be used by what they could be clamped on to. And some tables and wheelchairs are not suitable for clamping to. If moving from one work station to another is an issue, clamping and unclamping a mobile arm support can be both time consuming and inconvenient. There is a need for a portable mobile arm support that does not depend on clamp-friendly surfaces in order to be operational. For people who use augmentative communication devices, there is also a need for a pair of mobile arm supports to be easily portable, that could be conveniently used in a car or a restaurant. This is also a need for students who use mobile arm supports and travel from one class to another. The new design was completed in late summer of 2005.