HAND PAIN: MOTHER OF INVENTION by Paul Kleiman

Of all the things to invent, why a massager for hands and forearms?

That’s what people ask me.  Sometimes I ask myself.

One look at my history can answer that question.  I started playing guitar at age 7.  I started writing seriously in college, and of course had to type lots of papers. And by “type,” I mean, on a typewriter.  This is before personal computers were widely available. The guitar playing continued in earnest through those years, and after college, became almost a full-time job, concentrating on writing songs, playing in clubs and bars, and even busking with my songwriting partner by the fountain in front of New York City’s Plaza Hotel. 

Then, after deciding a career in music was too iffy, there was law school, which was around the time when everyone started using PCs. Of course, working as an attorney followed, at the time when “word processors” and even assistants were being phased out in favor of the attorney doing his own drafting and re-writing on the computer. 

Writing (and for that matter, guitar) never went away, and once I decided that lawyering had more negatives than positives (for me, that is), I started writing screenplays, then novels, which I have done now since 1993.  Then, because writing is inconsistent at best as a source of income, I studied Shiatsu massage in Santa Monica, then worked as a therapist both privately and at a very busy, well-known day spa for 6 years, doing what I conservatively estimated was about 1,000 massages per year.  Then I became a massage educator.  So now, I was massaging people, teaching massage (which called for a lot of computer time as well), playing guitar, and writing books and screenplays.

My hands hurt.  A lot.  One day they hurt so much that I wished I had an old-fashioned clothes wringer to run my hands into.

 Old-fashioned clothes wringer; put your arm in here?

Of course that would break bones, and leave my hand looking like a sheet of pasta, but something about it stuck in my head, and that made me think there was a need for a device that I could put on the table and roll my hands and forearms in an out of, and give the flexor and extensor muscles a good, deep massage. Deep tissue. Trigger point. Without using my other hand to massage or provide pressure.  I called the new device, “Roleo.” I thought about calling it “Wrist-Wringer” but someone said that might give the wrong impression.  Good call, whoever that was.

I’ve written a lot about how this inspiration came from my own needs.  Necessity, right? Mother of invention?  As opposed to Frank Zappa’s band, Mothers of Invention?  But we needed that too!

What is my message to you?  Look at the wringer.  Look at the Roleo.  Really, not that different. But different in all the ways that matter. The point is, I thought of the wringer, an item that was kind of obsolete but was in a lot of Little Rascals and other old movies and shows, as something that might work to help massage therapists and other people ease and prevent hand pain and other symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and similar chronic conditions of the hand and wrist.

How it went from concept to completed product is a long story (that you can read on our website, www.u-selfcare.com), but it all starts with the inspiration, the “light bulb” moment.

So what can you take from this? Use your own life, your own aches and pains, your own needs, and then look around for ideas.  Be open to anything. Because if it’s a necessity, something you need to have to help address some issue or problem, then someone else needs it too, and you can look around for inspiration to solve the problem. Once you solve a common problem in a way that can help a lot of people, you will have something that others will pay for. 

And that’s how necessity is the mother of invention.