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Assistive Devices for RA

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Having rheumatoid arthritis doesn't have to keep you from living an active life, looking great, and doing the things you enjoy. Assistive devices can help you regain your independence and make daily life easier. And they can help you feel better: A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that assistive devices promote psychological well-being.

Some assistive devices are specially designed for people with conditions like RA, which affects mobility, strength, and the ability to bend, reach, or grip. You may need to visit a pharmacy or medical supply store (or search online) for some devices; others may be around your house.

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Here's a list of rheumatoid arthritis gadgets that may help.

Dressing and Grooming

  • Clothes fastener. A button hook at one end makes it easier to fasten small buttons on blouses and sweaters. A hook on the other end helps open and close zippers.
  • Long-handled shoe horn. The long handle makes it easier to put on shoes when bending is difficult. A small notch on the end helps remove socks.
  • Long-handled comb. A long handle with a coated grip makes it easier to comb your hair if RA affects arm and wrist movement.
  • Wash mitt. Made of terry cloth or mesh, this mitt can be used with body wash or bar soap and eliminates the need for gripping a washcloth.

Tip: Think of a foam hair curler as an assistive device. Insert the handle of a tooth brush through the center to create an easier-to-grip handle, or cut curler down one side and slip over a brush handle. Flossers and electric toothbrushes make it easier to take care of your teeth.

RA Devices for the Kitchen

A wide range of products and assistive devices, including the following, can make food preparation easier:

  • Two-handled pots and pans. With handles on both sides, these pots and pans are easier to hold, because they allow you to spread their weight between both hands.
  • Rocking T knife. Designed so that you need less strength and dexterity to use it; this knife applies pressure directly above the food to be cut. Another plus: the knife can be used with one hand.
  • Milk carton holder. Used with a half-gallon milk carton, this holder provides a plastic handle that makes it easier to hold and pour milk.
  • Wash mitt. The same type of terry cloth or mesh mitt you use in the shower can be used to make washing dishes and kitchen clean-up easier.
  • Reacher. Basically a long stick (it may scope or fold) with a gripper or suction cups on one end, a reacher can extend your reach by two or three feet. Use them to retrieve lightweight items from high cupboard shelves or to pick up items from the floor without bending over.

Tip: Many items you already have around the house can spare painful fingers – and save your energy – in the kitchen. For example, a nutcracker can be used to loosen bottle tops, and a thick rubber band placed around a jar lid can improve grip. Other items that can make cooking easier include electric blenders, knives, can openers, and potato peelers. For serving a meal, nothing beats paper plates. Not only are they lighter than regular plates, they minimize clean-up time. Just toss them in the trash when you have finished eating.

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