Managing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) can be easier with adaptive devices. Depending on your specific symptoms, adaptive devices can help you get around easier, see better, and even assist you around the house. As with any disease, maintaining your lifestyle and quality of life is an important part of dealing with MS.
Types of Adaptive Devices
Your doctor can determine which devices will benefit you the most. Here’s an overview of the devices most widely used for MS and what areas they can improve.
Staying mobile will help keep you independent and allow you to continue doing the things you love. Mobility is necessary to ensure you maintain an active lifestyle and remain engaged in different activities.
- Orthotics: Orthotics are inserts that fit into your shoes to help with balance and stability. Your doctor will likely send you to an orthotist to be fitted properly. This healthcare professional has been trained to measure, design, and fit orthoses to your feet.
- Ankle-Foot Orthotics (AFO): According to the National MS Society, muscle weakness is a common symptom of MS. Because weakness often occurs in the legs, AFOs help to stabilize them.
- Canes: Canes can offer additional stability when you walk. They’re light enough to take anywhere, so they provide needed support while giving you more freedom. They can also help prevent falls from occurring when you feel unstable.
- Four-Pronged Canes: This type of cane offers greater stability than a traditional cane. The four feet at the bottom of the cane will help you on uneven surfaces, stairs, or slippery ground.
- Crutches: Crutches are often suggested by doctors when you need bilateral assistance, or assistance with both sides of your body. They’re also easy to carry, and they can stabilize the body more than traditional canes.
- Walkers: There are two different types of walkers: walkers with four legs and walkers with legs and wheels. Walkers can help stabilize your body during spasms and are easy to fold up and store.
- Walker Accessories: Various inexpensive attachments for walkers such as trays, baskets, and cloth storage pockets that attach with Velcro are available and can help you transport things without having to carry them.
- Scooters and Wheelchairs: According to the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, over 80 percent of people diagnosed with MS will have issues with walking within 10 to 15 years of disease onset. Mobility needs, preference, and doctor’s recommendations will determine which scooter or wheelchair is right for you.
Simple eye patches can help eliminate double vision. If you have a hard time seeing black lettering on white paper, you can use colored overheads. Colored overheads can also ease eyestrain. These are available at any office supply store.
Muscle spasms can happen throughout the body. If you happen to have spasms in your hands or arms, you might want to look into special eating utensils. These utensils are designed to counteract spasms so you can eat more naturally. They help by stabilizing the hand or arm used for eating. Those with MS often find these utensils can help eliminate any feelings of self-consciousness when sharing a meal with others.
When to Consider an Adaptive Device
You might not like the idea of using an adaptive device, but there are times you should consider it. For example, if you’re having difficulty doing tasks that were easy before or if you’re having trouble with balance. In general, the sooner you get an adaptive device the more time you’ll have to get used to it before you really need it.
Ask your doctor for advice in choosing a device that would benefit you the most. Devices can make daily tasks easier, so you can focus more on living your life to its fullest.