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MS and Sippy Cups

By Matt Cavallo
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When you were searching for MS articles, I bet you didn’t think you’d find one on sippy cups. Maybe you clicked because you were curious about the title or maybe you clicked because you have MS and drink from sippy cups. Either way, we’re glad you’re here.

Let me give you a little bit of back story about the topic. I spoke at a recent MS Focus event and during the question-and-answer session learned that a handful of people in the audience drink from sippy cups. They do this because they have problem with their grip strength and were dropping drinking glasses.

The conversation started because I had mentioned that even though we have some fancy glasses at my house, I drink from these big plastic cups because I am afraid of dropping and breaking those fancy glasses on my floor. Then, one of the audience members said she uses sippy cups and brings them everywhere she goes. Other audience members also shared their sippy cup stories. One woman shared that she had an adult sippy cup with special rubber grips that made drinking so much easier for her. During the talk, I made a promise that I would write a blog on sippy cups, so here we are.

The woman who inspired this blog was recently diagnosed with MS. She was in her 20s and was dropping her drinks. She didn’t want to stop going to parties or hanging with her friends, so she started bringing a sippy cup everywhere she goes. She carries a child-sized sippy cup in her purse, just in case the she needs to have a drink while she is out. She also uses it as an opportunity to educate her friends and family about MS and symptoms that they might not be able to see.

We always talk about invisible symptoms, right? What a brilliant way to represent an invisible symptom like problems with her hand and grip strength. The sippy cup is not only a powerful visual representation, but it also serves a very practical function.

Maybe you have heard about occupational therapy, but you are not sure what an occupational therapist is or what they do. Occupational therapists are concerned with the activities of daily living. Things like eating, drinking, bathing, going to the bathroom and dressing are activities that we do every day. Occupational therapists make sure that we can do these activities safely. 

When we develop deficits that make us unable to do these activities independently, occupational therapists can develop compensatory strategies that help us maintain our independence. Sippy cups are just one example. There are other every-day aids such as grab bars for the toilet or shower, grabbers to help open and get stuff from cabinets, and sock grabbers to lift your socks. They also help with wheelchair seating and adjustments. If you are struggling with the activities of every day, get a referral to talk to an OT.

But, back to the star of this blog – sippy cups. They are not just available in kids’ sizes. I did a Google search using the key words ‘adult sippy cup’ and you would be surprised at what results came up. Etsy has a store that specializes in designer adult sippy cups. There is no limit to the options you can purchase including mason jars with lids for those with big thirsts, sippy cups for hot beverages and even sippy cups for adult beverages. During this group conversation, a woman shared that she had an adult sippy cup with special rubber grips that made drinking so much easier for her.

The biggest fear with MS is losing our independence. We get frustrated when symptoms affect our hands and we aren’t able to grip and hold things like we used to. Don’t be frustrated, rather adapt. Assistive devices, such as sippy cups, can help us maintain our independence. If you are already using sippy cups, you are not alone. If you haven’t tried one yet, I just spilled the secret – sippy cups rock.