Performing kitchen activities with arm and hand differences

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Learn from young people with arm and hand differences about how they perform meal preparation and dining activities in their own way.

Key points

  • There are a variety of adaptive techniques and aids you can use in the kitchen to help you to keep objects steady and/or perform tasks with one or two limbs.
  • There are many ways you can adapt to performing different tasks in the kitchen. Find what works best for you!

Meal preparation and cooking

Many young people with arm and hand differences use adaptive strategies and aids in the kitchen to help them prepare meals, cook and dine-in or out.

Aids

There are a variety of adaptive aids you can use in the kitchen to help you with meal preparation and dining. Below are just a few of many aids that are available to you:

  • Anti-slip mats placed underneath objects to prevent sliding
  • One-handed bread holders (raised edge of the board will stop the bread from sliding)
  • One-handed cutting boards (spikes secure round objects in place while cutting)
  • Bagel cutter
  • One-handed can or jar opener
  • Universal cuffs to aid in holding/gripping (a utensil is put inside the pocket and the cuff is secured around the hand)
  • Built-up handles and adapted utensils (a thicker handle allows for a stronger grip)
  • Suction brushes (the brush is suctioned to the bottom of the sink to scrub dishes)

Adaptive strategies

The way that you perform tasks in the kitchen is unique to you and your particular hand or arm difference. There is no “right way” of doing these tasks; do them the way that works the best for you! Watch the videos below to see how Johanna and Audrey, young women with a brachial plexus injury, adapt to the tasks of opening jars and cans, cutting food and keeping dishes from sliding around on a table or countertop.

Opening a jar: Embracing Our Limb Differences – Johanna

 

Johanna is a young adult with a left brachial plexus birth injury who struggled to open jars that were tightly sealed. She demonstrates how she overcame this challenge by wrapping a wide elastic band around the lids to help her grip while opening jars.

Eating and cooking: Embracing Our Limb Differences – Audrey

 

Audrey is a young adult with a left brachial plexus birth injury who struggled with keeping dishes in place when cooking and eating, cutting food and opening cans with just one hand. She demonstrates how she overcame these challenges by using a silicone mat or damp cloth under a dish to keep it from moving, using a rocker knife to cut food and supporting a can opener against her body to open cans.

There are many ways you can adapt, like Johanna and Audrey, to performing different tasks in the kitchen. Check back to this page to watch other videos on how other young people with arm and hand differences perform various tasks in the kitchen.

To view the entire Embracing Our Differences library, click here.

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Last updated: December 20th 2021