Guest Post: Occupational Therapy and a Good Knife by Jennifer Digmann

fQtArRmL_biggerDan & Jen Digmann are authors and public speakers spreading the awareness of multiple sclerosis with partners such as You can visit their website at: and follow them on Twitter at Dan & Jen Digmann@DanJenDig. I wish them the best of luck in their efforts.

Occupational Therapy and a Good Knife
by Jennifer Digmann

As the mail carrier dropped off the small package, I couldn’t believe how excited I was. Like a little kid with a Christmas present, I kept telling my caregiver Crystal how this was, “What I’ve been wanting so badly!”

Anxiously I asked her to open it for me. She smiled when I handed her the box and gladly cut through the packing tape to reveal what was inside. In that small box was a black-handled serrated rocker knife.

Who would have thought I could be so enthused about a cutting utensil? But that knife was so much more than mere tableware. Wrapped in that box was a tool that would help me to regain some of my independence and self-confidence.

I could imagine it right then: Gone would be the days of my sheepishly sliding over my plate to Dan, my more-than-willing to help husband, who would gladly cut up my most-challenging foods. Also gone would be the days of my staring at restaurant entrees because I was unable to cut up what I had ordered and too proud to ask for help.


That Good Grips rocker knife is full of promise and potential. As described on its package, the knife is, “A great solution for persons with arthritis, stroke or other neurological impairments.” Neurological impairments like Multiple Sclerosis (link to like this should be perfect for me.

Strange how a bout of painful and frightening trigeminal neuralgia (TN)(link to could help me reclaim the use of my MS-weakened hands. As I started down this hopeful road to recovery, I met with a physical therapist to address and strengthen the general overall physical weakness that was accompanying my TN pain.

But as Julie, my PT, began to evaluate my condition, she recommended scheduling a few visits with an occupational therapist. An OT is more specialized to address and manage difficulties associated with activities of daily living, like cutting up food. And as I’ve learned throughout my 17 year tenure with MS, both therapists are valuable members of your healthcare team (link to that will become crucial to maintain your health and well-being.

Once Julie encouraged me to see my OT, Lucy, I knew my issue would be addressed. Lucy understood how important this was for me. Reclaiming or preserving something simple like cutting up your own food is very empowering.

But it isn’t like I got a new knife and “Poof!”, problem solved. MS could never make life that easy. While a rocker knife may sound simple (after all it is just a knife), learning to cut using it is taking time, patience and practice. I’ve had to relearn my cutting motion, no more sawing, simply rock the handle to allow the blade to do the work.

First, practice the motion and get used to the grip. Try cutting soft food like bananas or theraputty, and be sure to cut all the way through both. I am mastering (I hope) chicken this weekend. And by next week, when I am having dinner with the ladies in my book club, I plan on trying to use my knife at a nice Italian restaurant. Depending on my strength and confidence, there might be more than just pasta on my plate…a nice steak perhaps?

Whatever I’m having, I will be enjoying good conversation and a cut up meal. Mangia!Mangia!

About the Author

Melissa Cook
Melissa Cook is the author of As a retired high school teacher and school district administrator, she chooses to share her MS story in hopes of benefiting others.

1 Comment on "Guest Post: Occupational Therapy and a Good Knife by Jennifer Digmann"

  1. A great idea to keep in touch with an OT. I do not have one. I like the knife…good icky with it.

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