Eating and Drinking Assistive Products

Original Editor - Robin Tacchetti Top Contributors - {Special:Contributors/Eating and Drinking Assistive Products}}

Intro[edit | edit source]

Individuals dealing with physical impairments may have difficult with self-feeding. There are a number of assistive products within the self-feeding category ranging from modified cups, cutlery and dinnerware. These products can benefit the user to becoming more independent and less burden on the caregiver.

Cutlery[edit | edit source]

Individuals with physical disabilities may find it difficult to hold cutlery. Modified cutlery can assist these users in two ways:

  1. handle angle: the angle can be adjusted so the wrist does not have to turn making it easier to bring food to the mouth
  2. handle thickness: a thicker handler can be easier to hold
  3. weight:
    1. heavier assists with unsteady or uncoordinated arm
    2. lighter uses less effort

Another option to make it easier to hold cutlery is by adding a cuff or strap around the users hand. They may also be used to hold drinks.[1]A cuff also has other benefits besides eating and drinking including, holding a pencil or a hair brush.[2]

See the videos below by the World Health Organization for examples of modified cutlery:

Modified bowls and plates[edit | edit source]

Modifications in shapes and sizes to bowls and plates can make it easier for individuals who have issues with eating. The following are a sample list of ways to adapt bowls and plates:

  1. high sides:
    • high sides can be clipped on to existing plate or already be built in
    • allows the user to push food into their cutlery without it falling off the plate
    • useful for people with only use of one hand or poor coordination[1][2]
  2. non-slip and heavy
    • both features allow for more stability and less likely to tip over[1]

These videos by the World Health Organization demonstrates modified plates:

Modified cups[edit | edit source]

Cups can be modified by size and shape to assist with varying needs of the individual. Below is a sampling of assistive cups:

  1. cups with two handles
    • ability to bring the cup to the mouth increases with two hand use
    • affords more stability with the use of two hands
  2. cut-away cups
    • the cut-away section around the nose prevents the user from tilting their head back to drink
  3. cups with lids
    • prevent spilling
    • controls flow from cup to mouth
    • use with a straw allows controlled flow[1]

These videos by the World Health Organization demonstrates modified drinking cups:

Use of Adaptive Equipment[edit | edit source]

When teaching individuals on how to use adaptive eating and drinking products, the following instructions are helpful for the user:

  • have aids, drink and food within reach
  • use their stronger hand
  • use a non-slippery surface to keep bowls and plates from moving
  • sit in a supported chair with feet on a firm surface
  • have elbows on a firm surface[1]

Resources:[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 World Health Organization. Training in Assistive Products Modules. 2020. Available from:
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ward M, Johnson C, Klein J, Farber JM, Nolin W, Peterson MJ. Orthotics and Assistive Devices. Pediatric Rehabilitation: Principles and Practice. 2020 Nov 2:196.