Whisking Up Independence
Jack, 18, who was born with bilateral upper extremity differences and a mild cognitive delay related to a prenatal brain injury, has had a passion for cooking since he was adopted when he was 4. His mother, Linda, introduced Jack and his siblings to the joys of the kitchen, allowing them to be creative while promoting a sensory experience and structure. Each child had a night of the week where they were responsible for cooking a family meal – an activity that Jack looks forward to doing on his own one day.
When discussing the activities of daily living that Jack enjoys most, his occupational therapist, Mary Ellen Brown, MS, OTR/L, saw excitement when a cooking tool was presented to him as an option.
“Jack just turned 18, so we have been in discussions about plans for independent living,” said Linda. “It is important that Jack feels comfortable and confident on his own – especially in the kitchen. We want him to be able to roll out of bed and make brownies if he is craving them.”
He has always learned to adjust to his circumstances but now he is excited because, with the help of Shriners Children’s, he sees that the possibilities are endless. And not just in the kitchen, but in all that Jack does.
After observing Jack’s preferences, challenges and habits in the kitchen, Mary Ellen worked closely with prosthetist/orthotist, Liz Selgrade, CPO, to develop a device that would give him the functionality he needed to cook more independently. The duo created a customized prosthesis. Jack uses a silicone liner with a pin at the end that fits over his residual limb. The pin locks into the prosthesis to keep the device on the arm. An added bonus is that he can use the pin as a tool for opening and closing Ziploc bags and flip-top spice containers outside of the prosthesis. The prosthetic wrist moves side to side and up and down, allowing Jack to get the position he needs for his culinary creations. The pediatric orthotic and prosthetic services team also modified a whisk and spatula to allow them to screw directly into the prosthesis.
Physical limitation does not define what Jack can and cannot do, especially when it comes to following his passion. “He has always learned to adjust to his circumstances but now he is excited because, with the help of Shriners Children’s, he sees that the possibilities are endless. And not just in the kitchen, but in all that Jack does,” said Linda.