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Assistive Devices Can Ease Mobility Issues With Multiple Sclerosis

Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

If multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms limit you even slightly, consider using daily living aids and mobility devices to make living your life easier. These products are often called assistive devices because they assist you in all types of movements. They can range from an electric toothbrush to an electric scooter, depending on your individual needs.

Think of an assistive device simply as a tool that makes it easier to function, helps you stay independent, conserves energy, and makes it easier to accomplish daily tasks. Some assistive devices may be suggested or prescribed by a rehabilitation or occupational therapist, and you can try many on your own.

Assistive Devices for Activities of Daily Living

If symptoms like numbness, tingling, muscle tightness, weakness, or loss of balance present a daily challenge, assistive devices may help.

  • In the bathroom, consider installing bathroom grab bars next to the toilet and tub for better balance. If you have dexterity problems or pain in your hands, an electric toothbrush, easy-grip handles on combs and brushes, non-skid footwear, button and zipper hooks and Velcro closures on shoes are options that may be helpful.

  • In the kitchen, opt for an electric can opener and elective knives. Shop for lighter cookware that's also designed for easier gripping. Instead of stashing housekeeping supplies inside closets or on high shelves, use a storage cart with wheels. Use a long-handled gripper instead of straining to reach. (This tool is great to have in your clothes closet, too.)

  • If you need to find ways to make driving easier, consult with an occupational therapist about special hand controls and a low-energy steering wheel.

Assistive Devices for Better Mobility

If your symptoms make it a challenge to walk, consider using mobility devices designed to help you get around.

  • Orthotics are assistive devices worn inside your shoes. These shoe inserts can stabilize your feet, prevent foot dragging, and help you conserve energy.

  • Talk to your physical or occupational therapist about whether a brace could help support any areas of weakness. An ankle and foot brace can help you climb stairs. A back or neck brace can help you sit comfortably and decrease muscle pain.

  • A cane is especially helpful if one leg becomes weaker than the other. If that's the case for you, use the cane on the stronger side to shift your weight away from the weak side. A four-legged quad cane may be especially helpful for balance because it provides added stability.

  • A walker can help you compensate for more severe weakness and balance problems. If you have weakness in your arms, a rollator (walker on wheels) frees you from having to lift the walker constantly. Walkers and rollators are available with many features from safety brakes and a built-in seat (for resting when you're out and about) to a pouch for carrying necessities.

  • In rare, severe cases of MS, a wheelchair or scooter can keep you mobile if you're experiencing extreme weakness or frequent falls.

For many people with MS, the medications now approved for MS (called disease-modifying drugs) can reduce the number of flare-ups and slow the progression of the disease. But sometimes you might need an assistive device, even temporarily. And it's good to know that, like medications and rehabilitation therapy, these tools can help you live your life as actively and independently as possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Assistive devices can help you manage many tasks, from brushing your teeth to driving your car.

  • Your physical or occupational therapist is the member of your medical team trained to prescribe and show you how to use an assistive device.

  • Assistive devices are designed to help you stay active, independent and mobile.

Medical Reviewer: Haines, Cynthia, MD Last Annual Review Date: 2012-09-05 Copyright: 2012 Healthgrades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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