Eating and Drinking

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After a spinal cord injury, you may have weakness or loss of movement in your hands and fingers. This can make it hard to eat and drink without help. There are devices that can help you eat and drink with little or no assistance. If you have poor feeling, be cautious with hot foods and drinks to avoid burns.

Eating

Several devices can be used to assist with eating. Most of the devices help you hold utensils. When starting to eat by yourself, practice with foods that are easy to poke with a fork. If holding a fork is not possible, using your hands can be an option.

Sometimes, eating can only be done with assistance. Sometimes just having an assistant guide your hands can help. Always try to do as much as you can by yourself first. Ask for help once you get tired so that you can finish your meal.

Dorsal wrist splint: Use with spoons or forks when you have a weak wrist and fingers.

Universal cuff (U-cuff): Use with spoons or forks with weak finger.

Built-up handle: Larger handles are easier to grip with weak fingers. Use with spoons, knifes or forks.

Rocker knife: Cut food with weak hands and fingers.

Plate guard or a bowl with high sides: Scoop food without food falling off the plate.

Drinking Aids
Drinking can be made easier by using long and bendable straws. If you have some hand function, you can use specialized holders to help you hold a glass.

Glass holders: Hold a glass or cup with weak fingers. Your therapist can make you something like this out of splinting material.

Drinking straw holder: Position straws to help with drinking.

Extra long straws: Drink without leaning forward as much.

Rocker knife: Cut food with weak hands and fingers.

Hydration pack and hose: Mount it to your chair or bed using flexible tubing.

Setting a Place to Eat

Tables can often be too low for eating while in a wheelchair. A table can be raised by putting risers under its legs. Using non-slip material under your plate or bowl can help hold things in place and prevent spills. Table trays: can be adjusted to the right height. Lap tray: can be put directly on your lap when sitting in your wheelchair

Table trays: can be adjusted to the right height.

Lap tray: can be put directly on your lap when sitting in your wheelchair

Dycem: can be put directly on your lap when sitting in your wheelchair.

Preventing Muscle Strain

When eating, try to keep a good posture by sitting upright (90 o ). Try not to hike (lift up) your shoulders. Hiking your shoulders is a common habit that occurs when arm muscles are weak. This can cause repeated strain on your muscles. Doing this for a long time can cause injury and pain over time.

Safety Precautions
If you have poor feeling, you need to use extra caution when handling hot food and drinks. Never place hot things directly on your lap. Here are a few helpful tips to prevent burns:

  • Use a lap pad to carry food and drinks. Do not carry hot cups between your legs.
  • Use an insulated mug with a lid to prevent spilling hot liquids.
  • Carry hot drinks in cup holder mounted on your wheelchair.
Above is just a sample of many modified devices that help with eating and drinking.
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