Gadgets for Independence Series: Kitchen

By Wendy Crawford & Robyn Keller

In our last “Gadgets for Independence” article, we shared with you some helpful gadgets for those with limited hand function that are specifically for cutting items like packages, paper, envelopes etc. For this article, we would like to focus specifically on utensils that are for the kitchen.

When I was younger, cooking was not very important to me. I had my injury at 19 years old and making dinner was the last thing on my mind! Now, I actually miss the occasional times that I would cook or bake and would love to expand my skills.

Also, the older that I get, the more important it is to me to nourish my body with nutrient dense, nonprocessed and organic, when possible, foods. Most of the time, this requires making your own meals unless you are fortunate to have a restaurant that serves healthy options close by but that gets expensive!

For many, food is a passion (I’m one of them!) and cooking as a way to express yourself and your love for others. It can also be relaxing and therapeutic. Robyn ( Outreach Coordinator and hard-core foodie) is my inspiration and has been cooking for many years with her C6/7 level spinal cord injury, researching recipes and preparing amazing dishes! (Watch her in action, in her Reeve Minute cooking video.)

Warm Temperature Regulation

By Patty Kunze, "The Rollin RN"

I am sitting at my desk with record setting temperatures outside, and thinking about spinal cord injury and our body’s inability to regulate temperature.  It’s just another ‘thang’ we are unable to perform.  But why does that happen to spinal cord injured individuals?  Why are we powerless to regulate our bodies in hot and/or cold?  Since its summertime, I wanted to discuss the whys and hows to normalize during balmy outside temperatures and how to provide a comfortable environment while sitting in our chairs.

A normal, healthy human is able to maintain a constant body temperature of approximately 98.6ᵒ F despite the temperature of the environment. In a hot environment, the body sends a signal to the brain via the spinal cord to say the body is overheating; the brain then sends a signal back down the spinal cord and tells the body to cool itself by perspiration which evaporates and cools the skin.  This is defined as a “normal” individual.  This definition does not apply to spinal cord injured(SCI) individuals.  The signal is halted at the level of injury.  These definitions can easily explain why I can sit in a room and suffer from heat and my poor husband is wrapped tightly as a cocoon in his blanket. When I get hot, it will take me twice as long to cool down.  Same occurs during a fever associated with illness.  If a high paraplegic or quadriplegic is in an outside temperature over 90 F, especially when the humidity is high, the body temperature will begin to rise.  The ability to sweat or to make goose bumps may be lost below the level of injury.  It will take longer to cool down after a spike in temperature.  A LOT longer!!!!

Gadgets for Independence Series: Cutting

By Wendy Crawford & Robyn Keller

At a recent dental checkup, my dentist examined my teeth and then proceeded to talk to me about my “Grinding teeth at night Issue” and that I needed to be fitted for a special retainer. He explained to me that it would prevent me from wearing my teeth down any further while I was sleeping. He asked his assistant to go over the pricing with me and begin to take molds of my teeth.

Once I heard the price, I put on the brakes. I was racking my brain while he was talking and wondering if I really grind my teeth at night. I don't recall ever doing it nor anyone mentioning it to me before. Then suddenly it struck me! I use my teeth on a daily basis as an opening device ( since I have limited function of my hands). I rip open envelopes, lids, you name it! When I mentioned it to the dentist, he showed me, with a mirror, how some of my teeth had flattened. He explained that these seemingly harmless actions, repeated many times a day over many years, takes a toll on your teeth and wears them down.

In one way, I was relieved that we found the cause and I didn't have to pay the exorbitant price for the retainer but then I realized I had an even bigger problem - how was I going to do these things independently?