We always love hearing about how Obi has changed peoples lives, both from a caregivers perspective and those using our robot to gain dining independence! We loved meeting Isaac, a spunky 15 year old who tested out Obi during one of our first studies. We sat down with Isaac’s parents to have them share their story, and how Obi has changed their dining routine for the better.
1) First of all, thanks so much for sharing your story with us! We’d love to hear about your son Isaac and how you came to discover Obi.
In November of 2004, Isaac was injured in an auto accident at the age of four. He is a ventilator dependent quadriplegic with a C 2-4 spinal cord injury. In other words, he is paralyzed from about the shoulders down and breathes with the help of a machine. All of his needs, including activities of daily living such as eating, are met by caregivers 24 hours a day. Isaac is now 15 years old and a freshman in high school.
2) How and when did you first hear about Obi?
I think we first heard of Obi about a year ago. The clinical nurse specialist that does our monthly visits with Isaac for our nursing company had just attended an inservice about Obi. She thought of Isaac right away and passed along some information regarding a study that was being put together for those interested in trying Obi and giving feedback after using the device. We were excited to receive the info and I called to arrange for Isaac to participate in the study.
3) Do you remember what your first experience with Obi was like? What were your first impressions of our robot?
From a caregiver’s perspective I remember thinking, “Wow! This is really cool!” Our first impressions of the robot were that it had a sleek and modern appearance that was reflected in the smooth action of the movements of the robot. We were most impressed with how easy it was to program the unit to the proper positioning in which to feed our son from. Or how you tell Obi where Isaac’s mouth is in order to put the spoon in the right spot!
From Isaac’s perspective, he was thrilled he could choose his own food (and skip what he didn’t like!) and that he could eat at his own pace without verbally asking for each bite.
4) How has Obi changed your mealtime routine with your family?
It’s much more relaxed and enjoyable with Obi. Of course our family all eats meals together which for us meant that my husband and I were needing to eat at the same time we needed to be feeding Isaac. This is difficult to juggle, feeding yourself and someone else at the same time. You feel hurried during each meal. With Obi that problem is eliminated. We found we could all sit and feed ourselves individually, including Isaac, which led to a much more laid back atmosphere during meal times.
5) How was Obi made a positive change for Isaac since they first started using the robot?
Obi has definitely had a positive effect on Isaac. Just the sheer independence of being able to feed yourself again after so many years is a game changer. Isaac has a better appetite when he feeds himself with Obi. He’s more relaxed at meal times without the rush of asking for bites in between me or my husband’s bites.
6) How has Obi made a change in your life?
One nice way Obi has changed my meal time caregiving routine is when Isaac takes a little longer to finish a meal. Before, someone (usually me) would always have to be dedicated to feeding Isaac. Now while he’s still eating with Obi I can be in the kitchen area clearing dishes, putting away left overs, cleaning up, etc. I don’t have to be sitting right there next to Isaac feeding him exclusively. It frees up some of my time so meal times can go more smoothly and just a little quicker.
7) What’s your favorite meal to enjoy together as a family?
Isaac loves his steak with A1 sauce! We chop it up, put it in Obi, drizzle A1 over it and he’s good to go!
8) Any fun dining traditions that you’re excited to have Obi become a part of?
We actually had an interesting first Thanksgiving with Obi. Of course it was nice for Isaac to feed himself all the goodies of that time of year but what was so funny was watching all the little kids in the family mesmerized as they watched Isaac using Obi! They thought it was the neatest thing ever!
9) Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We are thrilled to have Obi as part of our lives now. Feeding ourselves is definitely something that we take for granted every day, just like combing our hair or scratching an itchy nose. It seems like such a little thing. But for someone in Isaac’s position when that little thing is taken away, it becomes a big thing on a long list of things that were once insignificant yet enjoyable. A little piece of your independence, a little piece of your joy, has been taken away. So when something comes around that helps to give someone back that little piece of independence, that little piece of joy, it is no small thing. One thing I’ve learned on “disability road” is that quality of life is everything. And the people who choose to use their abilities to improve someone’s quality of life are real life heroes in my eyes.