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How to cook with a prosthetic arm

This is your go-to guide on how to cook with a prosthetic arm. We'll touch on the following:

  1. Do you need a prosthetic arm to cook?

  2. What prosthetic arms and tools are available to assist with cooking?

  3. Can you cook with a myoelectric prosthetic arm?

  4. What does it feel like to cook with a prosthetic arm?

  5. Why might someone think cooking with a prosthetic arm could be difficult?

  6. Koalaa’s approach to cooking with a prosthetic arm

  7. User stories - Colleen

cooking with a prosthetic arm

Cooking is an art that knows no bounds. It brings people together, nourishes our bodies, and allows for endless creativity in the kitchen. But what if you have a prosthetic arm? Can you still pursue your passion for cooking? Absolutely! In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of cooking with a prosthetic arm, offering practical tips, techniques, and stories to help you embrace the culinary arts with confidence.


Do you need a prosthetic arm to cook?

The simple answer is no! Many people with limb differences are able to cook using their hands or arms depending on what type of limb difference they have.

A prosthetic arm is an assistive tool which can provide support and assistance for individuals with upper limb differences who decide they need extra support with cooking. The choice to use a prosthetic arm or assistive tools for cooking ultimately depends on the individual's comfort and preferences.


What prosthetic arms and tools are available to assist with cooking?

Cooking can be made more accessible to some people through the use of assistive tools and prosthetic arms. Here's a look at what’s available to assist with cooking:

how to cook with a prosthetic arm

Passive Prosthetics: At Koalaa we provide soft prosthetic arms with interchangeable tools. We have specific prosthetic tools designed for holding cooking utensils which assist with chopping, stirring, and creating culinary masterpieces!

Our cooking tools use a hook and loop strap that can wrap securely around objects like cutlery to cooking utensils. Our intuitive design allows for the tools to be manually opened with ease and for objects to be inserted.

Myoelectric Prosthetic Arms: Myoelectric prosthetic arms are designed with sensors that detect muscle movements in the arm. These movements are then translated into specific actions, allowing for control when handling kitchen utensils and tools. Some myoelectric prosthetic arms come with grip patterns and settings specifically optimised for tasks like holding a spatula or whisk!

Ergonomic Utensils: Ergonomic utensils have specially designed handles that provide a comfortable grip and reduce strain on the wrist and hand. These utensils often have non-slip surfaces, making them easier to handle when chopping, stirring, or serving.

Non-Slip Cutting Boards: Non-slip cutting boards have rubberised or suction-cup bases to prevent them from moving around during food preparation. This stability can be particularly helpful for those who use a prosthetic.

Adaptive Knife Handles: Some knife manufacturers offer adaptive knife handles that can be attached to standard kitchen knives. These handles provide a more secure grip and make it easier to control the knife while cutting ingredients.

Silicone Grips and Sleeves: Silicone grips and sleeves can be slipped onto the handles of various kitchen tools, including utensils, pots, and pans. They provide added comfort and grip for prosthetic arm users.

One-Handed Cutting Tools: One-handed cutting tools, such as one-handed food choppers and slicers, are designed for individuals with reduced hand mobility. They often feature a rocking motion or lever action that requires minimal effort to operate.

Adaptive Can and Jar Openers: Electric or manual adaptive can and jar openers are designed to make opening cans and jars easier for individuals with reduced hand movement or dexterity.

Aids for Measuring Ingredients: Adaptive measuring cups and spoons often have larger, easy-to-read markings and ergonomic handles that make them more accessible for prosthetic arm users.

Electric Mixers and Blenders: Electric mixers and blenders with ergonomic handles and accessible controls can assist with tasks like mixing batters, blending smoothies, or making sauces.

Oven Mitts with Grips: Oven mitts with non-slip surfaces or built-in grips can help individuals with prosthetic arms safely handle hot pots, pans, and baking sheets.

Voice-Activated Appliances: Smart kitchen appliances with voice-activated controls can be particularly helpful for prosthetic arm users, allowing them to operate ovens, microwaves, and other devices without the need for manual dexterity.

It’s important to note that not everyone who has a limb difference would benefit from or choose to use a prosthetic arm and it is solely based on the individual preferences of the person who has a limb difference as to whether they think a prosthetic arm would be useful to them.


What does it feel like to cook with a prosthetic arm?

prosthetic arm for cooking

Cooking with a prosthetic arm can be a unique and personal experience, the sensations can vary widely depending on the individual's prosthetic arm and their familiarity with the device. Here are some common aspects of what it may feel like to cook with a prosthetic arm:

Adaptation Period: When someone first starts cooking with a prosthetic arm, there is often an adaptation period. It can take time to become accustomed to the feel and capabilities of the prosthetic arm, as well as to develop new techniques for handling kitchen tools and ingredients.

Different Sensations: Depending on the type of prosthetic arm, users may experience different sensations while cooking. For example, myoelectric prosthetic arms can provide some degree of proprioception due to muscle sensors, whereas body-powered arms rely on mechanical movements.

Patience: Cooking with a prosthetic arm can require patience, especially when attempting tasks that require fine motor skills or precision, like chopping vegetables. It may take longer to complete certain tasks until the person feels more familiar with how the prosthetic arm works with them.

Improved Confidence: With practice and determination, individuals with prosthetic arms build confidence in the assistance of the prosthetic tools. Over time people will develop their own techniques, making the process smoother and more enjoyable over time!

Emotional Satisfaction: Many people find great emotional satisfaction in cooking with a prosthetic arm. It can be a way to regain a sense of independence, reconnect with a passion, and demonstrate resilience.

Community and Support: Many individuals with prosthetic arms find support and inspiration from online communities and support groups. Sharing experiences and learning from others can be empowering and motivating.

It's important to note that while cooking with a prosthetic arm may present challenges, it is a skill that can be learned and improved upon. With the right prosthetic arm, adaptive tools, and determination, individuals can continue to enjoy cooking and explore their culinary creativity.


Why might someone think cooking with a prosthetic arm could be difficult?

As a society, we sometimes perceive cooking with a prosthetic arm as difficult due to a combination of historical norms, limited exposure to prosthetic technology, and assumptions about physical limitations. In the past, prosthetics may have been rudimentary and lacked the functionality required for intricate tasks like cooking. This has led to the idea that prosthetic users might struggle with tasks that involve fine motor skills

The lack of awareness and representation of prosthetics has also contributed to misconceptions.

Limited visibility of individuals successfully using prosthetics for activities like cooking has reinforced the idea that such tasks can be challenging.

The intricacies of cooking preparation require a level of control and precision that may seem challenging to achieve with a prosthetic arm. These assumptions underestimate the capabilities of modern prosthetic technology, which has advanced significantly!

It's important to challenge these perceptions and embrace a more inclusive perspective. While there may be a learning curve and adjustments involved, individuals who chose to use prosthetic arms can develop remarkable skills using them for cooking.

The narrative is shifting towards empowerment and expanded possibilities, highlighting that cooking with a prosthetic arm is not inherently difficult but a skill that can be mastered with determination and the right tools!


Koalaa’s approach to cooking with a prosthetic arm

At Koalaa, our user-centric approach to design ensures that individuals have the tools available if required to assist with various activities, including cooking. Our prosthetic arms are soft, lightweight and made from fabric. Our prosthetic sleeves can be paired with different tool attachments which cater to specific tasks.

Our Janet tool uses a hook and loop strap that can wrap securely around objects, with foam inserts to allow you to hold various sized cutlery and cooking utensils.

Our Kitty tool is designed with a ball joint and lock. Like the Janet tool, the Kitty has a hook and loop strap that allows it to hold a huge variety of objects including cutlery and cooking utensils. It’s great for holding mixing spoons and tools in the kitchen, giving countless options for an adjustable position and angle.

Our Rushton tool is great for gripping a range of larger objects. It's a large bulldog clip gripper that can be used to hold glasses, mugs, and other wider objects!

By designing tool attachments that cater to activities such as cooking, we aim to encourage inclusivity and ensure that no one feels limited by the lack of resources out there available to assist them!


Baking with Koalaa

cooking with a prosthetic arm

We know that getting creative in the kitchen is something many members of the Koalaa Community love to do!

The Koalaa team held a baking session with YouTuber Alexis Hillyard from Stump Kitchen,

Colleen Hood (@Mad4Minnie)

to have a go at a recipe from Jessica’s book 'Baking up a Storm'!

The inclusive children’s recipe book follows a young boy who has a limb difference, as he bakes with his mum and all sorts of crazy things start to happen. The baking session was a chance to put the Koalaa prosthetic tools through their paces, to mix up a batch of Jessica's delicious Chocolate Chip recipe.

You can check out what we got up to here:


User Stories - Colleen

prosthetic arm for cooking

The journey of cooking with a prosthetic arm is personal and looks different for each individual.

Colleen is part of the Koalaa Community and lives over in the US! Colleen uses her Koalaa prosthetic arm and tools to assist her when cooking in the kitchen.

“My ALX Sleeve from Koalaa worked perfectly. I even used a new tool I got recently for it called The Rushton. You will see my excitement when I use it!

Practice really does make progress in everything we do. I LOVE trying new things and sharing my adventures with you.”

You can see Colleen’s cooking in action here:


Interested in our tools for cooking?

If you want to check out our cooking tools which attach to our prosthetic arm, click the links below!

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