Following a serious accident, the client is unable to raise his hands much above waist-level and accordingly is unable to feed himself using conventional cutlery. A long-handled fork was made for him (KW1448) which has proved successful, but he would like the additional flexibility offered by a spoon. A long-handled spoon is not viable so a means of raising a spoon from the plate to the mouth was needed which maintained the spoon in a horizontal position throughout.
The solution is based on a basic property of a parallelogram that opposite sides remain parallel regardless of a change in the angle between adjacent sides. In the ‘spork-lift’, one side of the parallelogram is held vertical and stationary by the user. The user can change the angle between adjacent sides, such that the opposite side of the parallelogram moves up or down but always remains vertical. A horizontal spoon, or in this case a spork, attached to the opposite side therefore remains horizontal as it moves up and down.
A prototype was built and shown to the client and his OT. Improvements were identified and these were incorporated in the final version given to the client.
The ‘spork-lift’ is constructed mostly from aluminium. The side of the parallelogram held by the user comprises 12mm diameter aluminium tube, bent to an angle to suit the client and mounted in a wooden handle. Two parallel arms constructed from 15 mm U-section aluminium are attached to the tube in bearings such that they are free to rotate (within limits) relative to the tube. The bearings comprise brass bushes pressed into the sides of the U-section arms with 3mm diameter steel spring pins passing through them and held securely in under-sized holes drilled in the tube. The fourth side of the parallelogram comprises 10 mm square section aluminium tube and is secured to the two U-section arms in bearings similar to the above. Brazed to the base of the square section tube is a holder designed to accept a push-fit from a lightweight stainless steel camping spork (or spoon). The holder is set at 45 degrees to the axis of the unit to facilitate entry of the spork into the mouth.
Control of the up and down movement of the spork is by way of a spring-loaded ‘trigger’. The trigger acts upon the lower U-section arm through 4mm brass bearings, the user raising or lowering this arm via the trigger using his thumb.
The client is now able to tackle a wider range of foods than was possible using only a long-handled fork.