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What is Adaptive Feeding Equipment?
Adaptive feeding equipment are modified utensils, accessories, glasses, and plates that make it easier for children and adults of all ages with different types of disabilities to eat independently and safely. Some examples of modifications include wider handles, straps, holders, non-slip fabrics, wider rims, weighted utensils, and more. When you live with a disability or chronic condition, you often have to come up with creative solutions to problems that many people don’t face in a day, and eating is no different.
There are many adaptive feeding equipment available that make it easier for you to control utensils and food which will enhance your confidence, independence, and eating experience. After all, we’re meant to enjoy our food so we may as well find devices that help us achieve just that.
This article contains a list of different eating utensils divided into the following categories: adaptive utensils and accessories, adaptive plates and bowls, and adaptive cups. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Always speak with a healthcare professional, such as an occupational therapist, dietitian, or physician to find out what equipment may be best for your needs.
Who Benefits from these Equipment?
There are many kinds of conditions where children and adults would benefit from using adaptive feeding equipment to give them more eating independence, such as those with upper body weakness, swallowing disorders, decreased dexterity, tremors, and so on. Folks with reduced hand dexterity may have difficulty firmly grasping onto typical utensils and would benefit from using a utensil with a strap or wider handle. People with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) may benefit from specialized cups.
Individuals with the following conditions may benefit from using adaptive eating tools:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Cerebral Palsy
- Hand or arm amputation
- Quadriplegia (ie. from a spinal cord injury)
- Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- Muscular dystrophy
- Developmental disabilities
Roundup of Adaptive Feeding Equipment
Here is a comprehensive list of different types of devices to help you feed yourself independently. Keep in mind that this is not a full list.
Adaptive Utensils and Accessories
This 4-piece set comes with two different sized spoons, a knife and fork. The handles are wide and made with a non-slip material making it easier to grasp and have control over. Wide handles also put less stress on the small joints in the hands and don’t require as much grip strength as a narrow utensil handle would. These utensils are non-weighted and were designed for folks with Parkinson’s, arthritis, or hand tremors.
Click here for another non-weighted 4-piece utensil set.
This cutlery set is similar to the above version because they have wide handles and the non-slip grip, but the slight difference is that these are weighted utensils and they are also bendable. Weighted utensils help stabilize tremors from conditions such as Parkinson’s. The bendable feature of these utensils supports folks with fine motor skill difficulties (such as those with arthritis), poor muscle control, or limited range of motion as they help users keep food on the utensil and prevent food from spilling before it gets into your mouth.
This cuff wraps around a hand in order to securely hold utensils. It also works for pens, toothbrushes, and daily living tools. It is ideal for folks with a weak hand grip such as arthritis, stroke, or quadriplegia (for example, from a spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy).
This utensil holder secures around your hand and can hold any sized utensil to support independent feeding. It is helpful for those with reduced upper extremity control, decreased range of motion of the wrist and hand, or weak hand grip.
These silicone utensil holders have a similar function to the utensil holder above. They come in fun, bright colours and are suitable for kids or adults.
Adaptive Plates, Bowls, and Accessories
This dish has a round, curved lip to help keep food on the plate and allows food to be trapped and easily pushed onto cutlery without spilling.
Similar to the scoop dish, the curved lip in this scoop bowl prevents food from spilling and helps one push the food onto their spoon or fork. It also comes with a silicone mat to prevent slipping and create a sturdy base for the bowl. This was designed for those with difficulty self-feeding from reduced muscle control from conditions such as Parkinson’s stroke, or cerebral palsy. It is also ideal for those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or elderly.
If you’re looking for a similar product, this is a scooper bowl with suction.
This plate guard clips on to the edge of any plate to help food go onto one’s spoon or fork, reduces kitchen mess, and prevents food from spilling. It has a similar function to scoop bowls and dishes but you can bring it to any restaurant and you can clip it onto the same plates that everyone else at the table is using.
Adaptive Cups and Mugs
This spill-free cup can be used for hot or cold liquids and you can drink from it while lying down because you don’t need to lift your head.
This cup is easy to hold and it controls the flow of fluids in order to reduce the risk of aspiration which is ideal for those with dysphagia or for those who have a hard time sucking on a straw. You can also use it to drink while lying down.
Nosey cups have a cut out for the nose so you can drink without bending your neck or tilting your head. They are designed for those with reduced neck motion or who can’t tip their head or neck back.
The weighted feature helps prevent cups or mugs from tipping over as they will be more steady on the table. The added weight helps steady hands with a tremor, such as in Parkinson’s.
This insulated, spill-proof mug has a closed handle which is great for those with limited hand dexterity, weak grasps, and tremors (such as arthritis, stroke, CP, Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy, MS, or quadriplegia).
This spill-resistant plastic mug has two closed handles so those with tremors, weak grasps, or poor hand dexterity can place their hands inside the handles and keep them tight around the mug.
We’d love to hear from you. What adaptive feeding equipment do you use? Is there anything we’re missing in this list? Leave a comment below. If you’re looking for delicious recipes to try using these equipment, check out my 20 Vegan Recipes with Pumpkin and Lentil Feta Salad Recipe!
The information in this blog post is meant for educational purposes only. To find out what type of adaptive feeding equipment would be right for you, please consult with a healthcare practitioner such as an Occupational Therapist or Registered Dietitian.
Jackie is a Toronto-based Registered Dietitian with a Masters of Health Science (MHSc) in Nutrition Communications, whose mission is to empower and support people with disabilities to manage their condition, prevent complications, and live active lifestyles through nutrition. Jackie runs a virtual private practice and consulting business and runs her blog which has simple recipes and health information for the disability community.