Enhancing Everyday Life: Adaptive Tools for Independent Living

Enhancing Everyday Life: Adaptive Tools for Independent Living

Occupational therapy promotes wellness and independence in all areas of self-care, work, and leisure. One of the ways occupational therapists assist their patients is by helping them learn to use adaptive devices. Adaptive devices aid people with everyday activities, including bathing, dressing, and eating, so they can live as independently as possible. In the video below, Occupational Therapist Paul Levin, CHT, OTR/L, from Valley’s Hand Therapy Clinic, Outpatient Therapy Services, showcases a variety of common adaptive devices. A transcript of the video, along with images and descriptions of the adaptive devices featured in the video can be found below.

0:28 | What is an Occupational Therapist?
Occupational Therapists are healthcare providers, and our training is to assist patients in learning how to be as independent as possible in areas of work, self-care, and leisure. This is done through a variety of methods including exercises, education, activity modification, and teaching patients how to use adaptive aids.

1:04 | What is an adaptive device; how can they help?
An adaptive device is any device that can aid a person so that they can live as independently as possible, and they take on many forms.

1:19 | How does someone know if they should seek occupational therapy?
If somebody notices that they are having a decrease in their functional ability to do things, one of the most important things they can do is make an appointment with their Primary Care Provider. This is important because you need to know why there is a change. If something is detected early, you have the best chance of turning things around.

Another reason is that having a diagnosis allows you to make better healthcare decisions. Also, when you meet with your healthcare provider, they will give you all your options for trying to help your situation get better. If you and your provider decide that you need additional assistance to maintain your independence or gain further independence, then your provider would write a referral for Occupational Therapy and then we would do an evaluation and figure out how we could best serve you.

2:22 | Tools that people can use to help them bathe and use the restroom:

Tub Transfer Bench: Bathrooms are a place where a lot of people fall, so for independence and safety, tub transfer benches make it easy to slide in and out of the shower or the bathtub and also provide a place to sit where people can conserve energy.
Handheld Shower Head:  
Many patients also find this helpful when showering or bathing.
Toilet Safety Frame: Toileting can be difficult when your legs are weak, so it’s very important to have a good set of armrests. These just snap onto the back of the toilet and allow you to get on and off easily, and they’re very adjustable.

3:14 | Tools that help people get dressed and take care of their appearance:

Reacher: This comes in handy for folks that have limited mobility. It can help with things like picking up things off the floor without needing to bend over.
Dressing Stick: This can help with things like pulling off your socks or grabbing a piece of clothing out of the closet.
Sock Aid: This is especially helpful for people that wear compression socks because they’re difficult to put on. You can slide them onto this device and make it easier to slide your foot into the sock.
Mounted Nail Clipper: Using nail clippers can cause a painful pinch or be difficult to do when you have weakness, so this allows people to push down with less pressure and/or pain.

4:49 | Tools to help people in the kitchen with things like cooking, eating, and drinking:

Mounted Jar Opener: Secures to the bottom of a cabinet and makes it easier to open jars.
Dycem (shelf liner): Its sticky nature also makes it a helpful resource for opening difficult jars.
Rubber Gripper: Another alternative to dycem for tricky jars.
Universal Bottle Opener: Makes
it very easy to open or unscrew bottles. Often magnetic and can be stuck to the refrigerator.
Universal Cuff: Most helpful for people with a weak grasp. You slide it over the hand to make it easier to hold things like utensils.
Large Handle Utensils: Another alternative to the universal cuff, for those that struggle with a weak grasp due to conditions like arthritis.
Walker Tray: Slides over the top of a walker to provide a tray for carrying objects such as meals, drinks, etc.

7:34 | Other common adaptive tools:

Medicine Bottle Grip: A grip to make it easier to open medicine bottles.
Lever Door Handle: A helpful alternative to a door knob for those that struggle with grip strength.
Padded Steering Wheel: A large steering wheel that is easier to grip. The additional padding also helps to absorb road vibrations.
Ergonomic Mouse: A computer mouse that holds the wrist in a more neutral position.
Cylindrical Foam Grip: A larger grip means people don’t have to squeeze as hard, reducing pain. This can also be used for eating utensils.
Easy Action Scissors: Great for hobbies! These scissors take pressure off the thumb and make it easier to cut and craft without pain.

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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office