Mobility Aids and Your Quality of Life
Mobility aids and assistive devices can improve your quality of life and allow you to accomplish tasks more independently. These devices range from smaller tools, such as adaptive toothbrushes and cutlery, to larger equipment, such as scooters and electric wheelchairs. When you decide to use one of these implements, you may want to consider that not only can they make your day easier, but safer too. Assistive devices help you conserve energy, an important consideration when living with MS, and, in the case of mobility aids, an assistive device may even help prevent potential falls.
Your physician may refer you to an occupational therapist, physical therapist, physiatrist or speech/language pathologist to evaluate your needs and to prescribe you an assistive device. You can decide which tools are best for you. Depending on your needs, we have included a list of devices below that you may want to consider.
Tools for everyday living
- Writing and Reading
- Special grips enable you to hold a pen or drawing implement comfortably and securely. Lensesand magnifying instruments may help you to overcome certain visual challenges associated with MS
- Grooming and Dressing
- Button and zipper hooks can be used to fasten clothes. You might also want to consider looking for clothing or shoes with Velcro. Combs, brushes, and toothbrushes can be fitted with easier-to-hold handles.
- Cooking and Housekeeping
- Devices such as electric can openers, rocker knives that minimize wrist motion and strength needed to cut, and cookware designed for those with limited hand, wrist, and forearm strength, help make cooking more manageable. Heavy lifting and bending involved in housekeeping can be reduced by placing cleaning supplies and equipment on wheels and by using long handled dusters and brooms. In addition, reachers can help grasp objects on shelves, pantries, and closets.
- Using your Computer and Mobile Device
- Software on your existing computer may already possess features for adaptation. For example, the Windows 8 operating system has options for screen magnification, screen contrast, and on-screen keyboards (see link to Ease of Access settings). Using the Windows operating system and a microphone, you can also teach your computer how to recognize and respond to your voice with speech recognition. Other hardware, such as touch screens, joysticks or trackballs allow more comfortable interaction with your computer.
- You can change settings on your cell phone, or ask tech-savvy friend or family member to set up voice recognition and speed dialing. Under the “settings” area of your smartphone you may also find options for changing the contrast, text size and screen magnifications. Also, using a hands-free headset or the speakerphone setting on your cell phone may talking on the phone easier.
Adapting your home
- Bathing and Showering
- Tub and wall grab bars can help you get in and out of the bathtub more easily, and help you to balance while in the shower.
Getting around comfortably & safely
- Braces, canes, or walkers can provide stability and support when you need it. Wheelchairs and electric scooters increase mobility when you need additional assistance. Transfer boards and lifts can help you get in and out of bed, the tub, your wheelchair, or your automobile.
- After assessment by an occupational therapist, driving may be safely accomplished with the help of hand controls, low-energy steering wheels, and other driving aids.
Be sure to discuss the possibility of utilizing mobility aids and assistive devices with your physician at your next visit, and inquire about whether it would be of benefit to be referred to a therapist or physiatrist for further evaluation.