One Handed Living

If you only have the use of one hand or arm, doing your day-to-day activities can be hard. If you have lost your dominant hand you will need to use your other hand for most tasks like feeding or writing, at least in the beginning.

You will also need to make sure your posture is straight, as you may lean toward the amputated side. A weighted stump cap may be used to help you with this, so that low back pain does not occur over time.

An occupational therapist can help you become more independent in your day to day tasks.

Here are a few tips to help you do daily things with one hand:

In the Kitchen:

  • Get everything you need out of the cupboards before you start – this makes cooking easier.
  • Try using electric gadgets – like a stand alone mixer or food processor.
  • Buy pre-sliced or chopped food to make life easier.
  • Use a wheeled cart rather than carrying items.

Stirring and mixing food: 

  • You can buy a special pot holder – it attaches to the stove top with suction cups and holds the pot steady while you stir.
  • Suction cup pads or dycem are types of rubber aids – place them on the counter beneath a bowl or cup to help while you are mixing.
  • A stove guard is a block of wood with dowels – your pot handle fits between the dowels and the block of wood attaches to the counter, to hold the pot while you stir.

Cutting and slicing:

  • Rocker knives are available to help cut meat.
  • A special cutting board can be bought that has suction cups on the bottom to hold the board steady, and stainless steel nails sticking up to hold food down while you cut.

Storing food:

Try lining a bowl with a plastic bag and then pour your food into it.
Use plastic bags rather than saran or cling wrap.
Mke sure you can close and open a container before using it - lids that stay on the container with half of the lid that flips open are easier to use.

Getting Dressed:

  • Shoes with velcro fastenings are available or special shoelaces are available allowing you to tie your shoes with one hand.
  • A tank top style bra can be worn that doesn't have fasteners – you’ll need to pull this over your head which takes time and practice!
  • Some people replace buttons and hooks at the waist of their pants with velcro.
  • A button hook can help you to do up buttons with one hand.
  • A dressing stick can be used to help when putting on pants or shirts. (it helps with reaching, pulling and holding clothing in place)
  • Try to avoid clothing with drawstrings (jackets, pants) as these are more difficult to tie one handed.

You should speak to your occupational therapist if there are specific things you have difficulty doing one handed.