Date Presented 04/22/2023

This pilot study explored the the feasibility, usability, and acceptability of an innovative and low-cost feeding chair for children with disabilities in Uganda. Findings and implications for changes to the chair prototype will be discussed.

Primary Author and Speaker: Paula Ann Rabaey

Additional Authors and Speakers: Natalie Bruno, Marissa Smith

PURPOSE: Many children worldwide living with a disability have persistent feeding problems putting them at risk for poor health and early mortality (UNICEF, 2021). Families in low resourced countries have limited access to seating technology for safe mealtime positioning (Inthachom et al.,2020). SPOON Foundation and an inter-professional team, designed a prototype of a low-cost feeding chair. The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility, usability, and acceptability of the chair in Uganda.

DESIGN: A mixed-methods design was used to collect data on caregiver feeding position, chair fit, responsive feeding practices, and caregiver feedback on chair design and usability. Twenty caregiver/child pairs were recruited from a rehabilitation hospital in collaboration with Ugandan OT professionals. All children had CP, could not sit independently, needed total assist for feeding, met height and weight criteria, and required modified food consistency.

METHOD: Data was collected via a chair observation form, short video clips, the Feeding Impact Scale, the non-communicating child pain scale, and caregiver focus groups. Descriptive statistics were obtained for child age, height, weight, feeding skill level, Feeding Impact Score, and position and fit in the SPOON chair. Frequency counts of responsive feeding behaviors were collected, and focus group data was analyzed for themes.

RESULTS: Qualitative data indicated increased caregiver satisfaction when their child was fed in the chair. Quantitative results revealed a 55-70% increase in correct hip, head, and neck positions when the children were seated in the feeding chair. Needed improvements were identified for the chair prototype design.

CONCLUSION: The SPOON chair has the ability to improve mealtime experiences for children with disability and their caregivers who do not have access to seating technology. Data from this study will be used to modify the chair prototype and to conduct a Phase 2 usability study.


UNICEF. (2021). Malnutrition.

Inthachom, R., Prasertsukdee, S., Ryan, S. E., Kaewkungwal, J., & Limpaninlachat, S. (2020). Evaluation of the multidimensional effects of adaptive seating interventions for young children with non-ambulatory cerebral palsy. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 1–9.