Your Guide to Gadgets and Gizmos for MS
Getting through everyday activities can be tiring and frustrating without the right tools and adaptations. Moving around, reaching for things, and manipulating equipment in your home or office can all pose challenges when you have multiple sclerosis. The good news is that there are as many gadgets, gizmos, and tools as there are tasks to do. Many are available in stores or online, while others are best accessed with the help of the physical and occupational therapists on your healthcare team.
Gadgets and Tools for Your Home or Office
- Good Grip® utensils and tools. Problems with grip strength, coordination, and numbness or tingling in your hands can make it challenging to manipulate objects, hold items without dropping them, or do everyday tasks like brushing your teeth, preparing meals, or using a fork and knife. This product line emphasizes larger handles and a comfortable sticky texture to assist you in manipulating the desired tool. They also offer weighted tools and devices you can strap to your hands or wrists.
- Clip and pull dressing aid. This tool consists of two plastic clips that are connected by straps. Attach one clip to the waist band of your garment and the other to your shirt. Lower the garment to the floor, place your feet in and pull on the strap to raise the garment. This aid can also be useful during toileting, to keep your pants from falling to the floor. You can even make your own aid using chip bag clips with a string tied between them. Click here to see an example of a homemade dressing aid.
- Organizational tools. Not every tool is complex or expensive! Simple solutions for keeping yourself organized and on track are helpful for everyone, but particularly if you are dealing with cognitive challenges that interfere with memory and problem-solving. Think calendars, notebooks, appointment books, whiteboards, bulletin boards, or any other gadget that assists you (and your family members!) to organize daily activities, store information, and provide reminders.
- Velcro®. This amazing product comes in all colors and sizes for use in an endless array of tasks. It provides solutions to fastening, storage, and organization problems. Velcro can fasten clothing, secure a seat cushion, or give you a way to hang up a cane. In fact, you can attach pretty much anything with two pieces of Velcro.
- The Reacher. This tool extends your reach to make all kinds of tasks easier and safer to perform. It can help you with dressing, opening a door, emptying a dryer, picking items off a shelf at home or in a store, or picking up something you dropped on the floor. Reachers come in different lengths and weights. Some are foldable while others have rotating jaws that can lock on demand. You can use Velcro® to store it in a convenient place, so it’s easily available when you need it.
- Remote controls. These handy tools can interface with appliances (think coffee machine or dishwasher), window shades, lighting fixtures, and even your car. Be sure to label your remotes and keep them in a specific location so you don’t waste precious energy looking for them. And don’t forget to keep a good supply of batteries on hand.
- Smart speakers. These handy tools include a variety of personal assistants that do your bidding – answer the phone, make a call, turn on music, answer the door, answer a question, or find you a resource online. The sky’s the limit.
Gadgets for Mobility
- Mobility aids. Think of these devices like shoes in your closet – so you can choose the right tool for each occasion. One mobility aid could speed you through shopping malls, grocery stores, or museums. Another might help you walk with a friend or reduce the risk of falls during your activities. The goal is to be able to participate fully in the activities that are meaningful to you, using whatever tool meets your needs. Consult a physical therapist or occupational therapist who specializes MS to identify the right devices and learn how to use them safely.
- The Handy Bar®. This tool is a portable support handle devised to assist people in getting in and out of a car. By sliding it into the existing U-shaped striker plate on the door frame of a vehicle you create an instant handle to aid in entering and exiting the car. The device supports up to 350 pounds and includes a seat belt cutter and side window breaker for emergencies.
- Floor to ceiling pole. This device helps with transfers in and out of bed. There are many different styles on the market. The floor to ceiling pole can also be used throughout the home to assist with bathroom mobility or getting up from chairs or sofas. Many of the poles feature handles that lock at different positions. An occupational or physical therapist can guide you to the best product for your particular needs and teach you how to use it safely.
- Raised toilet seats. The standard toilet seat is 15 inches high. The desired height for ease and safety is 19 inches. There are many ways to achieve a higher throne to help with bladder and bowel function, bathroom mobility, and overall comfort. You can purchase a higher toilet, raise an existing toilet using a 4-inch platform over the seat, place a portable commode over the toilet, or attach a raised toilet seat with or without arms to the existing toilet bowl. Padding is always an option. Devices are also available to assist you with transfers off the toilet. Most of these devices can be found online, at medical supply stores, or in big box stores. Click here to see some of the listed options.
How do your favorite tools and gizmos stack up to these? Remember, the human mind is our most incredible tool. If you are unable to locate the exact gadget you need, invent one!