June 30, 2014

Hand Use Able-bodied Adults Take for Granted


When my hand was flaccid I had to put objects in my mouth or squeeze them between my thighs to hold objects still.  This made me aware of the dozens of times each day I used to reach out to hold an object still so the other hand could manipulate it.  Here is an example of what I mean.  It is aggravating to get out cereal, a bowl, and a spoon, but not be able to open the milk.  My hand can now hold the milk container still so it does not spin around when I remove the cap, but first I have to reach for the handle. 

Using my hemiplegic right arm to reach for and hold a lint trap so my sound left hand can clean the lint trap sounds like a deceptively easy skill.  If shoulder muscles struggle to lift the arm, high muscle tone can cascade down the arm and make hand muscles tighten.  It is difficult to open a tight hand.  I am grateful that my OTs, NeuroMove, and Saeboflex helped me regain  this simple skill.  Being able to reach out and open my hemiplegic hand to hold objects helps me do 26 ADL tasks

June 26, 2014

The World's Tiniest Hand Splints


Problem #1.  When I drive for 30 or more minutes my paralyzed hand gets tight from the constant vibration.    Solution #1: To keep my hand open I use foam tubing designed to slip over the handle of eating utensils.  It has a 5/8 inch opening that runs down the center of the tube.  The fit is not tight enough to keep my fingers absolutely straight, but the foam traps body heat which relaxes my muscles.  My hand starts out stiff as the photo shows and ends flat on my thigh by the time I arrive at my destination.  The foam also provides traction so my hand does not slip off my thigh. 

Problem #2.  Pushing a heavy shopping cart makes my thumb bend severely.    Solution #2.    I slip a piece of foam over my thumb.  The foam keeps my thumbnail from digging into the side of my index finger.

Problem #3.  I have to grip a peanut butter jar tightly which makes my index finger and thumb bend sharply (see black line). 
A severely bent thumb means I am strengthening a bully who is already too strong!  I eat a peanut butter sandwich every day because Smart Balance peanut butter has omega-3 oil which lowers my high triglycerides (a bad fat in the blood).


Solution #3: I keep my thumb and index finger straight by donning rubber finger cots used to count money.  The finger cots give me traction that keeps my fingers straight as my sound hand uses a knife to dig peanut butter out of the jar.  I keep the finger cots in a shot glass for measuring liquor.  The shot glass sits on the windowsill in my kitchen.

June 15, 2014

Reviewing Adapted Knives

When I eat out I order soft food that can be cut with a fork, like fish and pasta.  At home I have rocker knives that let me press down on the food to hold it still while a rocking motion cuts the food.  The photo shows two rocker knives.  The long knife in the photo on the right is the most commonly used one.  However, the photo below shows that this rocker knife does not fit in my purse.
I have to use an across-the-body purse because straps keep sliding off my shoulder.  Straps that slide were OK when I was able-bodied and had a free hand to keep pushing the strap back up.  Fortunately I found a small purse called the Terrace Shoulder Pouch at ebag.com.  Putting the purse in front of my body keeps it out of the way when I reach forward with my cane.  I have larger over-the-shoulder bags, but they stick out so far I look like a pregnant walrus.  
Another alternative is the smaller knife in the photo above.  I think it looks like a weapon for an assassin so I use it to cut vegetables at home.  I am the least fashion conscious person I know,
but even I am vain enough to want to look like everyone else in a restaurant.