April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, so happy OT Month to all the OTs out there! In past articles for the Upper Limb Library, we’ve celebrated our OTs by talking about the importance of having them at each of our prosthetic care centers, their passion for their job, and the opportunities they have to go out and about with their patients. This year, we’ve asked them to tell us all about their favorite items that are helpful for people with upper limb differences — tools that are available from various online retailers that can make life with a limb difference a little easier.   

While our OTs have found these tools to help their patients, it’s important to note that since each person is unique regarding their level of limb difference, goals and individuality, these tools are not a one-size-fits-all fix. This is where the guidance of an OT can be crucial in helping each patient not only decide what tools would work best for them, but also showing them how to utilize each tool to maximize its benefit and minimize any overuse issues. 

 We’ll start with our Portland center OT, Jamie.  

“I love the foam tube grips [pictured below]. I utilized them at my job before, while working as an OT in hand therapy for patients of all backgrounds varying from arthritis to pediatrics. Now as an OT at the Arm Dynamics center in Portland, I find that using the foam tube grips helps greatly in concert with the prosthesis. Keeping a set in a purse or the car to use on utensils when having lunch with a friend or to use at home for an easier grip on a toothbrush and other items, can make life a lot easier. Because the tube increases the size of the grip, the soft foam makes it very useful to conform to the grip with a prosthesis. Overall, the universal design of the foam tube grips allows a variety of uses. I recommend them to all patients, and the low price and variety of use make them a great tool to have.” 

Tubing on Fork and Spoon

Next up, Lauren from our center in Kansas City.  

“I often recommend the rocker knife [pictured below] to my patients. Many people utilize this tool, and some have multiple rocker knives — one for home, one for work, one for going out to eat, etc. They are simple and effective, allowing anyone with an upper limb loss, difference or injury to single handedly cut and prepare food. The tool is designed to function with a single point of contact, making it an invaluable asset for anyone with an upper limb amputation or limb difference. The wide handle allows for any portion of the arm to press and rock, meaning that, even without a prosthesis, this tool can be used easily.” 

Rocker Knife

Here is our patient Trevor using a different type of rocker knife:

Tim, the OT at our Houston center, who is pictured with his patient at the top of this article, chose universal cuffs: 

“A universal cuff is an assistive device that is designed to provide an alternative for those who have difficulty with grasping items. The cuff is generally made out of either a thick fabric or leather, and has a pocket that can hold different items such as eating utensils, personal hygiene items such as a comb or toothbrush, or even pens for writing.” 

Image from caregiverproducts.com

The OT at our Dallas center, Carina, has some favorite items that she knows her patients find helpful, but she also wants to encourage people to think long-term.  

“While adaptive equipment is helpful to have to make things easier, especially in the comfort of your own home, what happens when one is outside of that environment? Do they have to bring their own cutlery? What if they are staying in a hotel — how will they dress, use the restroom, etc.? I think it’s important for anyone to be able to approach tasks with multiple ways to complete them so that they can adapt depending on the context. That is something an OT can be helpful with, giving people options for handling a task when they’re on their own out in the world with their prosthesis. It may take longer, but with practice, many tasks can be achieved without a tool. There’s one item I often recommend that makes things easier and can be used on the go: Dycem® no-slip material [pictured below]. It can be a real game changer!”  


One of our patients keeps a piece of Dycem® non-slip material stashed in his wallet. When he’s out in public and wants to stabilize a bowl or plate, like above, or open a water bottle, like below, he can rely on his trusty Dycem® to make it easier. It can also be used in place of a foam tube grip, like in the picture at the top of this article.


You can watch our OT Tim and his patient Ernesto use Dycem® in this video:

Our OTs are part of what makes our Arm Dynamics centers unique — most prosthetic care centers do not have dedicated, on-site therapists. Not only do you see the same person each time you come to our center, they’re also there when you’re there — no need to make a separate appointment. Each of our OTs are dedicated to helping patients learn how to use their prosthesis and also learn how to use the assistive tools described above. They also perform outcome measure tests that not only help our clinical teams figure out how best to offer care to each patient but improve our methods of care overall.  

If you or someone you know is interested in a complimentary consultation with our clinical teams, which include our prosthetists and OTs, please contact us. If you would like to leave a comment regarding this article or recommend a product you have found helpful during your journey as someone with an upper limb difference, please leave it below. 


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