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Assistive Devices and How They are Used

Minimizing Barriers and Improving Independence


For centuries, assistive devices have been utilized, with some evidence of walking canes being used as early as 1670. With technology rapidly advancing, assistive devices are used more now than ever. Examples of assistive devices and technologies include walking canes, prostheses, visual aids, hearing aids, wheelchairs, specialized computer software and hardware that increase mobility, and many more.




Assistive devices are tools or technologies that help people with disabilities perform activities they may otherwise have difficulty with. The goal of assistive devices is to provide people with greater independence and improve their quality of life. Assistive devices also help remove or minimize barriers that may prevent people from living safe and productive lives.


In this post, we will examine some commonly used assistive devices. Click or tap below to jump between sections of this post.


Assistive Devices for Dressing
Assistive Devices for Bathing
Assistive Devices for Feeding
Assistive Devices for Mobility


Assistive Devices for Dressing


Reacher or Grabber

A reacher device, also known as a grabber or an extended arm grabber, is a tool designed to help people with limited mobility reach and pick up objects that are beyond their normal range. These devices typically consist of a long, lightweight handle with a gripping mechanism at the end, allowing the user to pick up objects without bending down or stretching too far. Reacher devices can be beneficial for people with conditions such as arthritis or back pain, as well as for individuals who are in a wheelchair or have difficulty moving around.

Sock Aid

A sock aid is a device used to assist people in putting on socks. It is typically a long, plastic or metal rod with a curved end designed to hold the sock open, allowing the user to slide their foot into the sock easily. Sock aids are often used by individuals who have difficulty bending down or reaching their feet. Some sock aids also have a built-in strap or handle to help the user hold onto the device and maintain a secure grip while using it.


Long Handled Shoe Horn

A long-handled shoe horn is a device used to assist people in putting on shoes. It is typically a long, curved piece of metal or plastic with a handle on one end and a smooth, rounded end on the other. The smooth end is inserted into the back of the shoe, allowing the user slides their foot into the shoe without bending over. Some long-handled shoe horns also have additional features, such as a built-in brush or a foot scraper, to help the user with other foot-related tasks.


Dressing Stick

A dressing stick is a device used to assist people in putting on clothes. It is typically a long, narrow rod with a hook or loop on the end, allowing the user to pull clothing items onto their body without having to reach behind their back or strain their arms. Some dressing sticks also have additional features, such as a button hook or zipper puller, to help the user with other clothing-related tasks.



Assistive Devices for Bathing



Shower Chair

A shower chair is a device that is used to assist people in sitting down while taking a shower. It is typically a chair or stool with a seat and backrest, designed to be placed inside the shower to provide a stable and comfortable place to sit. Shower chairs are often used by individuals who have difficulty standing for long periods of time and sometimes have additional features, such as armrests or a removable backrest, to provide added support and comfort.



Grab Bars

Grab bars are safety devices that are installed in bathrooms and other areas of a home or building to provide support and stability for individuals who have difficulty standing or maintaining their balance. Grab bars are typically long, narrow bars that are mounted securely to a wall or other surface, allowing users to hold onto them for support when standing up, sitting down, or moving around. Grab bars can help prevent falls and other accidents in the bathroom or other areas of the home.



Commode

A commode is a type of portable toilet typically used when a regular toilet is not available. Commodes are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings, as well as in the homes of individuals who are unable to use regular toilets due to mobility issues or other disabilities. A commode typically consists of a seat with a removable bucket or container underneath to collect waste, allowing it to be easily emptied and cleaned. Some commodes also have additional features, such as armrests or a backrest, to provide added support and comfort for the user.


Raised Toilet Seat

A raised toilet seat is a device used to increase the height of a toilet seat, making it easier for individuals to sit down and stand up from the toilet. Raised toilet seats are often used by the elderly or those with disabilities, as the added height can provide additional support and reduce the need for bending or straining. Raised toilet seats are typically made of plastic or other durable materials and can be easily installed onto the existing toilet seat without needing tools or modifications. Some raised toilet seats also have additional features, such as armrests or a lid, to provide added comfort and convenience for the user.


Non-slip Bathmat


A non-slip bath mat is a type of mat that is placed on the floor of a bathtub or shower to provide a safe and stable surface for individuals to stand on. Non-slip bath mats are typically made of rubber or other materials with a textured surface that helps prevent

slipping and falling. They are often used by people who are concerned about the risk of slipping and falling in the bathroom. Non-slip bath mats come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit different types of bathtubs and showers, and can be easily cleaned and maintained.

Assistive Devices for Feeding


Universal Cuff

A universal cuff is a type of device that is used to assist individuals with limited hand mobility in performing tasks that require grasping or holding objects. Universal cuffs are typically worn on the hand and feature a flexible, adjustable strap that can be used to hold a variety of objects, such as utensils, tools, or other items. Universal cuffs provide added support and independence in daily activities. Some universal cuffs also have additional features, such as built-in gripping aids or padding, to provide added comfort and support for the user.


Dycem

Dycem is a brand name for a type of non-slip material that is used in a variety of applications, including healthcare and rehabilitation. Dycem is typically made of a flexible, rubber-like material which helps to prevent objects from slipping or moving when placed on top of it. For example, it can be used to line the base of a tray or plate, helping to prevent the food from slipping or moving around when the user is attempting to eat. Dycem can also be used to create a non-slip surface on utensils, such as forks or spoons, making it easier for individuals with limited hand mobility to hold and use them. In addition, Dycem can be used to secure a cup or glass to a table or other surface, helping to prevent spills and accidents during mealtime.

Build-up Utensils


Built-up utensils have been designed to assist individuals with limited hand mobility in performing daily tasks such as eating. Built-up utensils typically have a larger, more ergonomic handle that is easy to grip, as well as additional features that can help the user hold and control the utensil more easily. For example, some built-up utensils may have a built-in grasping aid, such as a loop or hook, to help the user hold onto the utensil without having to use their fingers. Others may have a weighted or angled handle, which can help the user position the utensil more accurately and with less effort.

Assistive Devices for Mobility

Cane

A cane is a type of mobility aid that is used by individuals who have difficulty walking or maintaining their balance. It is a long, narrow rod with a curved handle on one end and a rubber tip on the other, which the user can hold onto and use to support themselves while walking. Canes are typically made of metal, wood, or other durable materials, and come in a variety of styles and sizes to suit different needs and preferences. Canes are often used by individuals who have mobility impairments or other physical limitations, and can help to improve their independence and quality of life.


Rollator Walker

A rollator walker is a type of mobility aid that is similar to a traditional walking frame or walker, but with the added feature of wheels on the base. This allows the user to move the walker forward by pushing it, rather than having to lift and move each leg separately. Rollator walkers are often used by individuals who have difficulty walking or maintaining their balance, but who still have some ability to bear weight on their legs and push themselves forward. They are typically equipped with a seat and hand brakes, allowing the user to rest and catch their breath when needed. Rollator walkers are also known as rollators or rolling walkers, and can provide users with increased mobility, independence, and safety



Manual Wheelchair

A manual wheelchair is a type of wheelchair that is propelled by the user using their hands to push the wheels. It is called a "manual" wheelchair to distinguish it from power or electric wheelchairs, which are propelled by motors. Manual wheelchairs typically have two large wheels in the back and two small wheels in the front, and are operated using the arms and hands to push the wheels and move the chair forward. Some manual wheelchairs also have hand brakes for stopping, and some have additional features like adjustable footrests or backrests for added comfort.


Power Wheelchair

A power wheelchair is a type of wheelchair that is powered by a motor, rather than being propelled by the user using their own muscle power. Power wheelchairs are typically controlled using a joystick or other device that allows the user to easily steer the chair and control its movement. These wheelchairs are often used by people who have difficulty using a manual wheelchair, such as those with limited upper body strength or mobility. Power wheelchairs can be either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, depending on the specific design and needs of the user. They can also have additional features like adjustable seats, footrests, and backrests for added comfort and support.



References:

McLellan, D. L., Pain, H., Gore, S. (2003). Choosing Assistive Devices: A Guide for Users and Professionals. United Kingdom: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


Robitaille, S. (2010). The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology & Devices: Tools And Gadgets For Living Independently. United Kingdom: Springer Publishing Company.


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