Giving Independence with a Single Spoon
Written by Kat Newton, OT
Kittitas Valley Healthcare (Ellensburg, Washington)
There are many moments in your career as a therapist that stick with you and bring a smile to your face, that make you feel like you found the right profession. I have been very lucky to experience a moment like this recently with a patient (age 23) who has a spinal cord injury.
We were discussing her biggest areas of concerns and she immediately mentioned self-feeding. She is embarrassed to eat in front of her friends, co-workers, and often avoids this as much as possible to avoid spilling all over herself. She already had built-up handles and curved utensils which helped but did not fully solve the problem. I did some research and found the LiftWare Starter Kit, which is a self-leveling and “magical” utensil that prevents food from spilling, working with the same technology that is on a phone camera.
I had told her the hospital was going to buy this utensil to have as a demo in clinic, when really a bunch of us therapists pitched in to purchase the utensil for her as a graduation present (she just graduated with her bachelor’s in family and child life studies, a huge accomplishment for someone who has lost so much function in the last year).
I presented her with the utensil, and she was able to eat applesauce, peaches, and scoop dried beans without SPILLING A DROP! She was so excited and could not believe how well it worked. She began thinking about how she could get the money together to purchase this utensil when she was presented with a card and told that is was hers. We both got a little misty-eyed, and she was so thankful, not wanting to put the spoon down.
The next day she sent me a video of her eating lunch, IN THE LUNCH ROOM, at work, smiling ear to ear and showing off how easy it was to get food to her mouth. No food on her shirt! She said “I thought you should know I used the fork part of the utensil and it worked so well! No spills. I feel so cool with it, too. My parents and I can’t thank you enough for this. It will provide me with more independence than I ever thought I would get.”
She made me a very proud and happy OT.