Mealtime Partners, Inc.

Specializing in Assistive Dining and Drinking Equipment

December 2013 Independent Eating and Drinking Newsletter

Independent Eating...   is a Wonderful Thing

December Topics:

  • Seasons Greetings

  • Mounting the Mealtime Partner

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Seasons Greetings from Mealtime Partners

Wishing Everyone a holiday filled with happiness and joy.
May 2014 be a wonderful year for you!

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Check Out Our Wonderful Holiday Gift Ideas
A hands-free drinking system can enable someone to drink independently throughout the year and is the gift that they will appreciate all year.

Mealtime Partners, Inc. has several different types of hands-free drinking systems to choose from: the Hydration Backpack with Tube Positioning; the Front Mounted Drinking System; and the Drink Aide. They can all be easily attached to a wheelchair and can be positioned to meet the individual user’s need.
Camelback Drinking SystemDrink Aide on Wheelchair
Hydration Backpack with Drink Tube Positioning The Drink Aide
Front Mounted Drinking System
The Front Mounted Drinking System

Those who are at risk of choking should consider drinking from a Provale Cup: it provides a sip of thin liquid every time it is tipped up to take a drink. It prevents the user from receiving a large "gulp" of liquid.

And, for those who are required to drink thickened liquids, the Thicken Liquid Cup is an excellent choice. This cup can serve varying thicknesses of liquids and can control the volume of liquid that is served by an adjustable drinking spout that can serve a small stream of liquid or just a trickle.
Provale Cup Thickened Liquids Cup
The Provale Cup Thickened Liquids Cup
To view all of the Mealtime Partners drinking products, click here. For additional guidance about how to select the appropriate drinking system for your specific needs, click here.

Mounting the Mealtime Partner

Have you ever wondered why the Mealtime Partner Dining System has different mounting systems available? To answer this question a little history should be provided. Prior to the device being developed, Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, conducted a study to identify what assistive dining equipment was available worldwide. The findings disclosed that there were four semi-automated feeding devices internationally available at the time the report was published in 1987. Because none of the devices sold well, an analysis was undertaken to find out why they were not more popular despite the number of people who are unable to feed themselves and who might benefit by using such a device. It was found that the majority of people (around 2/3) who might use the device, sit in a wheelchair to eat their meals. All of the devices had to be placed on a table to be used. The user had to scoot up to the table putting their knees under the table top, in the same fashion that most people do at mealtimes (as illustrated below).

People Enjoying  Mealtime

The problem with this requirement is that if you sit in a wheelchair to eat your meals, the arms of the wheelchair will most likely prohibit you from moving close enough to the table to be able to reach either a plate or a dining device. This is especially likely for someone who sits in a powered wheelchair.

Illustration of how the arms on a wheelchair can prohibit pulling the chair under a table.
Woman in Wheelchair with Arms Man in Wheelchair without Arms
Wheelchair with Arms will not fit under a Table Wheelchair without Arms will fit under a Table

Because being able to access assistive technology for eating was identified as such a significant problem, when the Mealtime Partner Dining System was developed, access was one of the primary considerations in its design. Even in 2013, the Mealtime Partner is the only dining device that can be mounted in ways other than placing it on a table for use.

For those who are able to sit at a dining table to eat, the Mealtime Partner can either sit on the table for use or it can be mounted on legs that lift it to the appropriate height for the user. When the device is purchased with legs as its mounting method, it is supplied with a set of 2-inch high legs, a set of 4-inch legs, and a set of 6-inch legs. Mounting the device on legs is appropriate for anyone who is less than 6 feet tall. The 6-inch high legs are the tallest legs available and do not position the device high enough to facilitate a very tall individual reaching the spoon without leaning forward significantly, which is not a good position for eating or digestion. Therefore, for tall people other mounting methods are recommended.

Child Using the Mealtime Partner
The Mealtime Partner Mounted on 4-Inch Legs

The Mealtime Partner can also be mounted on an adjustable Support Arm that is designed to allow the spoon on the Mealtime Partner to be positioned as precisely as a user needs. This is an essential feature for those individuals who have a very limited range of motion. Using the Support Arm, the spoon can be positioned such that the user needs to only move their head forward about 1 to 1.5 inches to remove food from the spoon. Because the Support Arm can extend beyond the table, it makes the Mealtime Partner accessible to those who sit in powered wheelchairs that, due to the size of the chair or because they have controls mounted in front, cannot be positioned very close to a table. Also, for those who require a laptray on their wheelchair, the Support Arm allows the Mealtime Partner to reach the user despite the laptray. The Support Arm is attached to a table (or other secure object) with the Mealtime Partner Table Clamp. The Support Arm allows the Mealtime Partner to be positioned for the user anywhere within an 18-inch area (vertically or horizontally), including below the table top.

The Mealtime Partner Mounted on Support Arm
The Mealtime Partner Mounted on the Support Arm

A video is available to provide quick and easy instructions in setting-up and positioning the Mealtime Partner using the Support Arm. To view the video, go to the Training Page of the Mealtime Partners website and click on Training Video Segment: 3. Mounting. (The instructional video plays in around 4 minutes after the Player and video files have downloaded to your computer.)

For individuals who cannot eat from a dining device that is placed on a table, but who are able to move their trunk, the Partner can be mounted on Mounting Shafts. Mounting Shafts are available in 5 different lengths: 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10-inches long. They are quicker and easier to set up and less expensive than the Support Arm, but are not continuously adjustable, being available only in discrete lengths. The Shafts, like the Support Arm, are attached to a table with the Mealtime Partner Table Clamp. Following the "safety first" policy employed in the overall design of the Mealtime Partner, the shafts will allow the Mealtime Partner to rotate away from the user if it were accidentally struck, but will not rotate so freely as to move when simply touched by the user.

The Mealtime Partner Mounted on a Mounting-Shaft
The Mealtime Partner Mounted on a Mounting-Shaft

It should be noted that when the Partner is mounted on either the Support Arm or a Mounting Shaft, the device can be rotated out from the table to which the clamp is attached. In the picture of the Mealtime Partner Mounted on a Mounting Shaft shown above, this feature can be seen. The edge of the table can be seen at the bottom of the picture and the body of the device is extended away from the edge of the table. The advantage of being able to move the device out from the table is that it facilitates access to the device for those users who are unable to move close to the table and put their knees under the table (like the wheelchair users described earlier). Because of these different mounting methods the Mealtime Partner is accessible to a large majority of people who are unable to feed themselves. Systems can be purchased with a single mounting system or all of the mounting systems. A last note – for small children no mounting system is necessary. Simply put the Mealtime Partner on the table for use.

Small Child using the Mealtime Partner
The Mealtime Partner without a Mounting System

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A Trivia "Did You Know" for the Holidays.
Did you know that if food is not mixed with saliva, you can’t taste it?
Did you know that M&Ms (Mealtime Partners favorite “food group”) are named after the people who invented them: Mars and Murrie?
Did you know that people in Switzerland eat the most chocolate, approximately 10 kilos (around 22 lbs) for each person per year?
Did you know that French fries were originally from Belgium?
Did you know that American’s eat 35,000 tons of pasta a year?
Did you know that more Coca Cola is drunk in Iceland than any other country?
Did you know that your mouth produces a liter of saliva a day?
Did you know Frank Epperson invented the Popsicle by mistake? He left a soft drink outside with a stirring stick in it. The next morning it was frozen to the stick. He shared his invention with his friends and later his own children. He called it the POP’s-sicle!

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