Stroke often causes motor paralysis on the other body side of the affected brain. Stroke survivors whose more affected hand is the dominant hand may need to exchange their dominant hand and use “non-dominant hand”.
One of the most dexterity activities is to use chopsticks. Therefore, I want to provide tips for somebody who wants to know to use chopsticks. These tips are also useful for the practice of using chopsticks for the first time.
- Practice when changing the dominant hand to use chopsticks
- First phase: I practiced keeping holding chopsticks in a good position using the non-dominant hand
- Second phase: I moved the upper chopsticks so that I could open and close the chopstick tips
- Third phase: I practiced pulling
- Final phase: I focused on keep durable against muscle fatigue
- Introducing some self-help device chopsticks
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Practice when changing the dominant hand to use chopsticks
I am an Occupational therapist in Japan, not a stroke survivor. However, I had surgery on my non-dominant hand. After that, to enhance my non-dominant hand strength and dexterity, I had used it every dinner time. As a result, now I can eat with the non-dominant hand, regardless of genres, such as rice, sidedishes, and noodles. This page introduces the contents of practice and some tips for mastering chopsticks operation with your non-dominant hand.
▶︎First phase: I practiced keeping holding chopsticks in a good position using the non-dominant hand
Here, “a good position” means holding two chopstick tips attached together. I tried to make it possible to keep in a good chopsticks position even if I poke some tissue and clay. Gradually, I could stop moving to the lower chopsticks by the base of the thumb and the side of the ring finger.
▶︎Second phase: I moved the upper chopsticks so that I could open and close the chopstick tips
At first, it was difficult to align the tips of the two chopsticks, but I found a way to move the upper chopsticks so that the tips can be aligned.
By opening and closing the upper chopsticks with the index and middle fingers, I was able to align the tips.
At this time, he was able to adjust the width of the chopsticks according to the size of the object, so that he could eat by “scooping and hooking” rather than by “picking” with the chopsticks. Before the actual meal, we practiced scooping and hooking smoothly using a rolled-up tissue. As a result, I was able to take most of their meals. However, it was still quite difficult for me to keep picking the rice from the bowl because my hands were getting tired, so I did it as much as possible. I didn’t practice picking other small things (like picking red beans, which is a common practice).
▶︎Third phase: I practiced pulling
When using chopsticks, it is necessary not only to pick but also to dice and separate food, so through the practice of dicing tissues with little resistance, I learned to put my strength into spreading the upper chopsticks. As a result, he is able to pick fish and rice grains more easily because his chopsticks do not fall apart.
▶︎Final phase: I focused on keep durable against muscle fatigue
When I got to this phase, I could adjust the size of the food, pick it, and eat it without having to choose the food, but I lacked durability. The solution was simple, to use chopsticks longer gradually.
As for food forms, I have the impression that chopstick manipulation is more difficult than eating rice or solid side dishes because it requires coordinated use of the wrist and fingers to eat noodles or mix eggs.
Introducing some self-help device chopsticks
When it was difficult for me to use regular chopsticks, I sometimes used self-help chopsticks to eat. For an introduction to the different types of self-help chopsticks, see “Eating with Non-dominant Hand – Introduction to Self-help Chopsticks” (click on the image below to open the page).
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