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    Giving people knowledge, a positive attitude and a sense of empowerment is one of the most important aspects of our work. By working with each participant, individually and in-depth, we are able to help them learn how to take control of as many aspects of their life as possible.

    Can Do MS Staff Member
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    by Beth Bullard, OTR, Can Do MS Programs Consultant

    In doing research for this article, my colleagues and I discovered that there are as many gadgets and gizmos as there are tasks and situations. Many of them have made their way into the main stream and are available at local stores or via online shopping.  Here’s what made our top ten favorites.

    10. A remote control. They are not just for televisions anymore. There are many remote controls on the market that can interface with appliances, lighting devices and even your car. The trick is to label the remotes and keep them in a specific location. It is also helpful to keep a box of AA and AAA batteries for when a remote needs a battery change.

    9. Good Grip® utensils and tools. Often grip strength is not the only challenge.  Decreased coordination and numbness in the hands can make it difficult to grasp and hold an item.  The concept behind this product line is to use larger handles and a comfortable sticky texture to assist you in manipulating the desired tool. Their line goes on to offer weighted and strapped devices. Many are available locally in stores and online.

    8. 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-shape striker plate on the door frame of a vehicle you create an instant handle to aide 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. 

    7. Clip and Pull dressing aide. This tool consists of two plastic clips that are connected by straps. Clip the waist band of the garment, lower the clothing to the floor, place your feet in and pull on the strapping to bring the clothes up. We have also found it useful in keeping your pants from falling to the floor when toileting. (We have made this one by using two chip bag clips with a string tied between them.)

    6.  The PDA (Personal Desk Assistant) While most of the time this term speaks to an electronic device, I like to think that it can be any form of external device that keeps world order, especially your world order! This can be a calendar, notebook, daytimer, white board, bulletin board, recording device or any method you find that can assist you in the organization of daily activities, store information such as phone numbers and provide prompts and reminders.   

    5. Bed cane or a floor to ceiling pole. The purpose of this device is to aide in transferring 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. Many of the poles feature handles that lock at different positions. This type of tool would be best purchased with the assistance of a health care professional such as an occupational therapist or physical therapist.. They can guide you in determining the best product for your particular need and provide training on the device. 

    4.  Mobility devices. Think of these devices like shoes. Most of us wouldn’t wear flip flops in the snow or ski boots when surfing. The key is to use the right mobility device for the right job. Finding that balance between devices can be very liberating and increase a person's ability to participate in work, recreation or other pursuits.  The trick is to utilize them effectively and in combination. For best results consult a health care professional such as a physical therapist or occupational therapist who specializes in this area. Together you can discover your ideal mobility prescription.

    3. Higher toilet seats. The standard is 15 inches, the desired is 19 inches. There are many ways to achieve a higher throne. Purchase the complete package, raise an existing toilet using a four inch platform, place an adjustable commode over the toilet, or attach a raised toilet seat with or without assistive arms onto the bowl. Padding is always an option and they even make devices that assist you in transferring off the toilet. These devices can be found at medical supply stores or in a Big Box Store!

    2. Velcro®.  It comes in all colors, sizes and the possibilities for use are endless. 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. My favorite is the sticky back dots.

    1.  The Reacher. Use it to dress, close a drawer, open a door, empty a dryer, or shop in a store. It is offered in different lengths and can be light weight or foldable. Some have rotating jaws that can lock on demand. Its uses are unlimited. While it is fact the reacher is only helpful if available when needed, we find using sticky back Velcro to secure it to a handy location makes it highly accessible and the most consistently helpful gizmo there is.      

    How do your favorites compare to our top ten?  Remember, the human mind is our most incredible tool. If you are unable to locate the gadget you need, invent one!

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