Devices for People Who Can Only Use One Hand?

Updated on March 16, 2010
M.O. asks from Highland Park, NJ
6 answers

Please forgive me for asking a question that's not related to parenting, but I wanted to put this out to a lot of people in hopes that someone can help.

As a side effect of her cancer treatment, my aunt has lost all the use of one hand. Because of some recent swelling, she has been advised not to use it *at all* -- even to stabilize objects she's holding in her other hand. Does anybody know of a device that helps people maneuver with only one hand? My aunt lives alone and is very independent -- she's a successful attorney and a gifted cook. Since she's never had any children and since I'm her eldest niece, I try to look out for her.



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answers from New York on

I suffered an upper limb amputation a few years ago. Get her a rocker knife & also an Ulu knife. They also make elastic shoelaces that make life easier (though I have learned to tie a shoe one-handed). There are many other adaptive devices out there. She's just got to think outside the box & rethink how to do things. It is totally possible for her to live a full & "normal' life without the use of her hand. I DO!
Best thing for you to do, is try & do what she has to do for 1 gives you a different perspective of the challenges she faces daily. Trust me, I know! I do it & have a 2 1/2 year old son & 10 month old daughter!

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answers from Albany on

Hi There,
I am an Occupational Therapist, and from the sounds of your message, she would probably benefit from Occupational Therapy. An Occupational Therapist will teach her to learn ways to adapt everyday activities so that she can remain as independent as possible. The OT will also introduce adaptive equiptment and teach her how to use it. I don't know enough about your Aunt's diagnosis, but it seems strange that the Dr. would tell her not to use her arm/hand at all, even for stabilizing things. Usually, if the extremity can be used in any way, it should be. Potentially, if she stops using her arm all together, she may loose more function. Using the arm (according to treatment plan from an Occupational Therapist/Physical Therapist and Dr.) may be beneficial ie. to maintain function/strength and keep swelling down... possibly after a period of rest... depending on the diagnosis). Again, I don't know enough about her diagnosis to tell you if she should/shouldn't be using her arm, but she would benefit from Occupational Therapy regardless.



answers from New York on

I would advise your aunt to set up an appt with an occupational therapist. She will need a prescription from the doctor. She could go to an outpatient clinic or she may qualify for home therapy if she is considered "home bound". She may be considered homebound since her ability to drive would be affected by only being able to use one hand. An occupational therapist could help identify adaptive equipment that can best help her. The OT could also look at her home setup and see if there are ways to adapt her home to increase her ability to fully function.



answers from New York on

Hi M.,

Ask your Aunt's dr. if he could send her for occupational therapy. An OT will show her techniques and tools that she can use to help her manage with one hand.



answers from Boston on

Mira, I'm sorry to read that your aunt has lost the use of one hand. I'm the author of "One-Handed in a Two-Handed World." Occupational therapists have called my book their bible. I describe it as the step-by-step guide to managing just about everything with the use of one hand.

"One-Handed in a Two-Handed World," ISBN 978-0-09652805-3-2, can be most easily purchased at In "One-Handed" I describe a number of useful products and I set up an Amazon aStore accessed through the website to help my readers find these things more easily. I hope this is helpful

T.-K. Mayer

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