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Adapted necessities

Kerri is delighted with the spoon adapted for her by TAD volunteer Peter Loewensohn and feels there could be many other people with physical disabilities who may find the idea useful.

Kerri has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was seven, and has undergone spinal fusion. She can only lift her arms to her chest and can’t bend her neck. “In the last two years I have only been able to manage food I could stab with a fork,” she said. “No rice, no soup, nothing that wasn’t solid.”

Kerri and her Occupational Therapist, Catherine, tried taping a dessert spoon and a teaspoon together to make a longer and more suitable implement. This worked well, but the tape was not hygienic and would come undone over time.

Peter therefore set about devising a permanent solution. A teaspoon was a comfortable size for Kerri to hold, and “didn’t twirl”, so he used one as the handle. He bent the head of a dessertspoon to an 85° angle, and roughened the surface of both the spoon handles.

The next step was to glue the two handles together with Araldite. Once it was set, Peter mixed and kneaded two part epoxy putty and moulded it around the spoon handles. “It is long-lasting and will withstand hot water and the dishwasher,” he said.

Now that she has a model, Kerri is planning to get more made, using art deco spoons she has acquired. “I’d like something a bit more jazzy for when I go out,” she said.

When she’s using her computer, Kerri mostly relies on her Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software, as she can only type for a short time without pain. However, she is unable to put the microphone headset on or off by herself.

Peter had observed that Kerri is able to manipulate sticks well, so he provided her with two pieces of dowel, tapered at the ends with a rubber stopper about 3cm from the ends. These fit snugly into lugs which he fitted onto the headset, with the stopper preventing the stick from slipping out of the lug.

Kerri asks her carer to put the headset on. When she has finished on the computer, she is able to manipulate the sticks into the lugs and lift the headset off by herself.

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TAD acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to elders past, present and emerging.