If you have ever sprained your wrist, banged your knuckles or stubbed a finger oddly, you have probably experienced the difficulties of trying to go about your day with only one hand. You might wonder how a person could manage to open a can, thread a needle or close their pants if they lost one hand permanently. As almost 10 million people can attest, it isn't easy, but it isn't as difficult as you might think.
It's true. There are over 5 million people with repetitive stress disorders from tennis elbow to carpal tunnel, 3 million stroke victims and thousands of amputees, people with arthritis, birth defects or neurological issues. They have to deal with being one-handed on a daily basis. How do they do it? With a little creativity, a few tools and practice, practice, practice.
The staff at Dynamic Living has collected tips and found products that can ease the learning curve for someone who has recently become single-handed.
Change how you think about the task.
Although change can be very frustrating, it can also be very liberating. You are used to approaching tasks, like opening a jar or getting dressed, with both hands.
If you stop to think about what needs to be done, you will find there are other ways to accomplish your goals.
Look for the easy way out. Does that task really have to be done? If not, eliminate it.
Use the tools that are right in front of you:
Use every part of your body. You have four fingers and a thumb. You have several vices and clamps with you at all times: your teeth, your feet, your elbows, your knees. Can one of these body parts hold the item while your good hand works on the task?
A kitchen drawer and your hip can serve as a vice for opening a jar or cereal box.
Put a pot in the corner of the sink to hold it in place while you scour.
Make a different choice.
When dressing, pants with an elastic waist are easier than jeans with tight buttons. Loafers are easier than shoes with laces.
Buy pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables rather than cutting up your own.
Serve from the stove rather than trying to move a heavy casserole to the table.
Learn to think ahead a few steps. You don't want to find yourself in the middle of an effort that might cause an injury. When you begin this new way of working, an Occupational Therapist can help you learn what you can do safely.
Find a tool that lends a helping hand.
Don't worry about what a tool is "supposed" to be used for, imagine what it "can" be used for.
Review specialty tools that could work for you.
- Look for items with suction cups or non-slip surfaces to secure them to the counter or table. For example, a scrub brush on suction cups can be secured to the sink edge to scrape plates, clean nails or scrub a potato.
Select tableware or cooking accessories with non-slip bottoms so they don't scoot away from you when you stir something.
Knifes that roll or rock are much easier to cut with than knives you need to "saw" through the meat.
Rolling Mincers and Pizza Cutters can do more than mincing and slicing. They are usually very sharp and let you to apply pressure more easily while you cut.
Ulu Knife and various rocker knives have curved edges that let you rock the knife back and forth to cut.
- The Knork is a knife fork combination that has an edge for cutting, similar to a rocker knife, and also has tines to pick up the food.
Look for tools that actually do the work for you:
- The Lids Off Jar Opener is a counter top appliance that will grasp jars of various heights, clamp onto the lid and twist it in a counter clockwise motion.
The Automatic Card Shuffler and card holders enable you to play most of your favorite card games.
Voice Activated products perform various actions at your verbal command, like turning on lights or dialing a
These tips and products are only the beginning. The opportunities for finding ways to manage your surroundings are endless. There are people who have 'been there, done that' and want to share their unique approach with others.
"One Handed in a Two Handed World" is an excellent book, filled with great ideas and tips for people who are new to the single-handed experience. Ask around, and you'll find many people who are ready to share their joy for 'getting on with it'!
© Copyright 2006
Dynamic Living, Inc.
Dynamic Living Newsletter may only be redistributed in its unedited form. Written permission from the editor must be obtained to reprint or cite the information contained within this newsletter.
(return to top of page)