Find out What Works and What Doesn’t
Welcome to readers of the New Mobility review of the Obi eating device. While pricey, the Obi does an excellent job of restoring independence at mealtime. It can handle most types of foods, although you have to experiment because some dishes work better than others. After three years using Obi, these are the foods that work with the robot the best and worst:
– To fit in the spoon, you want chunks smaller than an inch.
– Long potato skins and stringy spaghettis are not so good, nor thick, glutinous masses like sticky mashed potatoes.
– Leafy salads and the Obi exist in different dimensions: the Obi scoops and scoops like Where’s my date? – while the salad sits there wondering if he’s ever going to show up.
– Thin soups, ironically, work great, while thicker ones like stews can get messy. It’s quicker to shoot the broth with a straw and then Obi and I go in to wipe out the surviving chunks.
– Applesauce works great after I throw in a handful of chia seeds to absorb some water. The same with one of my wife’s homemade chilis that sometimes turns out a little soupy: in goes Chia seeds or nutritional yeast, or even better, stir in a handful of crumbled tortilla chips to absorb liquid.
– Some meals go perfectly, while others you end up wearing on your sleeve quite literally. Don’t fill the first bowl to capacity, or it may flick your cornflakes back at you. In any case, you have to wear a dinner napkin. None of this is to scare you off though, because the Obi gets the job done. A couple of dropped bits on your lap napkin is nothing for what you get here.
About that price, I’ve not yet found the case where Medicare covers it, but Medicaid has covered at least one unit, in Missoula, Montana. Obi is listed with a federal GSA contract, to help get it to veterans. The manufacturer, Desin LLC, offers rental and lease-to-buy options, as well as other funding alternatives. My hope is that the more popular this quality device becomes, the more likely it gets picked up by Medicare, and once Medicare covers it, everyone will.
In the meantime, putting out the money for a relatively recent device is scary; it was for me. That’s why I wrote this review, to say that I took the step and found it worthwhile. I have no connection to the company, other than as happy customer.
This column is dedicated to the late, great David Hare, and his wonderful wife. I first saw the Obi at the 2016 Chicago Abilities Expo. It was also the day I met David, who passed away from ALS in 2017. Without use of his arms, David controlled the Obi with his feet. He showed me around the device, and assured me that if I did go ahead with the purchase, I would not regret it. We bonded as skydivers, but he’d accomplished so much more than me. He felt like a kindred spirit, though we only got to speak twice. I didn’t purchase the Obi until many months later, when my back was up against the wall, but you were right, David. Thanks, man.
Twice, the Hares journeyed quite a ways to Chicago and back, because they believed this was truly a device to help people. In their spirit, I write this review for you.
Article about Obi, featuring the late David Hare.