Assistive Devices for Multiple Sclerosis

Assistive devices are tools that can make life with multiple sclerosis a little easier. They help you with tasks like walking, dressing, and bathing, and help you use less energy. An occupational or physical therapist can recommend devices that will help you the most and teach you how to use them.

Talk with your doctor or therapist before you use any assistive device. Your insurance might cover part or all of the cost if your doctor prescribes the tool.

Mobility Aids for MS

Some of these devices may help you get around:

Orthotics. These lightweight inserts you wear inside your shoes can help keep you more stable and ease fatigue. They also can brace your feet, which helps if you have spasticity in your feet.

Leg braces. Weakness in your leg muscles can make it harder to go up and down stairs, rise from a chair, or walk. An ankle-foot brace can keep your ankle stable when you have trouble with the muscles that raise the foot. It fits into a regular shoe and keeps your toes from dragging. If you have muscle weakness in your neck, a neck brace may make you more comfortable.

Canes. One of these may be the most useful tool when one leg is weaker than the other or when you have mild problems with balance. Here are some tips for using one:

  • Hold the cane on the stronger side of your body while your weight is shifted away from your weaker side.
  • A quad, or four-legged, cane can give you more stability than a standard one.

It's a good idea to have a session with a physical therapist to learn how to properly use your cane or any other assistive device.

Walkers. These are best if you have a lot of leg weakness or a balance problem. You can add wheels or platforms to the walker if you need to.

Wheelchairs or scooters. They can give you more freedom to go where you need to if it’s getting harder for you to get around on your own. They’re usually best if you have serious fatigue, are very unsteady on your feet, or you fall sometimes.

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Aids for Everyday Tasks

There are a lot of ways to make everyday tasks easier and less tiring. Talk to your physical or occupational therapist about trying some of the following tools.

Bathing

  • Tub bench or shower chair
  • Hand-held shower head
  • Grab bars in the shower or tub

Using the toilet

  • Bedside commode
  • Grab bars near the toilet
  • Toilet seat with armrests (you can put a raised seat over a regular toilet)

Grooming

  • Electric soap dispenser and toothbrush
  • Lighted magnifying mirror to improve your view while you shave or put on makeup
  • Long-handled brushes and combs

Dressing

  • Velcro, buttons, zippers, and hooks on clothing
  • Sock pull
  • Long-handled shoehorn
  • Buttonhook
  • A stool to sit while you get dressed

Cooking

  • Utility cart with wheels
  • Electric can opener
  • Pot stabilizer
  • Reacher devices
  • Cutting board with suction cups to keep it steady
  • Lightweight pots and pans
  • Nonslip mats to stop items from sliding on your counter
  • Stool where you can sit to cook or wash dishes
  • Kitchen fan to keep you cool while you work

Eating

  • Special utensils, such as large-handled spoons and forks, rocker knives, and “sporks” (a combination of a spoon and fork)
  • Plate guard
  • Wrist supports

Working at your desk

  • Special grips for pens and pencils
  • Wrist supports
  • Shoulder rest or headset for your telephone
  • Book holder and page turner, or an e-reader
  • Magnifier to enlarge print in books
  • Anti-glare computer screen to protect your eyes
  • Calendars and organizers to keep your memory on track

Working or playing outside

  • Cooling vest filled with ice packs to beat the heat. Also, try a cooling wrap that goes around your neck, wrist, or ankles.
  • Long-handled gardening tools so you don't have to bend to plant or weed
  • Wheeled cart to hold your gardening tools

Sleeping

  • Electric beds or mattresses
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on May 19, 2019

Sources

SOURCE: 

Job Accommodation Network: "Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Multiple Sclerosis."

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America: "Cooling and Assistive Equipment."

Multiple Sclerosis Foundation: "The Benefits of Occupational Therapy."

Multiple Sclerosis Society UK: "Home Adaptations."

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: "Driving with Multiple Sclerosis," "How to Choose the Mobility Device that is Right for You," "MS Symptoms," Prepare Your Own Meals."

 

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