Being diagnosed with arthritis or a musculoskeletal condition can be life changing. Simple daily tasks can become difficult and painful, while managing family life and juggling work can be exhausting.
There are a variety of aids, gadgets and other equipment available to help you manage your pain. They can also help reduce stress on your muscles and joints, save energy, prevent fatigue and basically make your life easier.
Aids and equipment can help you with everything from cooking, cleaning, bathing, writing, mobility, technology and driving.
You may be able to modify some objects that you already own – e.g. if you have sore hands, foam tubing can be used to create an easier grip on your pens.
Or you may need special equipment for specific situations – e.g. tap turners to help you turn the water tap on or off, pick-up reachers to help you pick items up off the floor, or grab rails beside the bath/shower to help you get in and out of the tub.
Some of these items can be made by a home handyperson or you can buy them from medical suppliers, pharmacies, hardware or other stores.
If installation is required, a competent home handyperson can sometimes do the job, but local tradies and sometimes local councils can also arrange installation. Grab rails, bath seats and other aids must be properly installed or they can be unsafe and potentially dangerous.
The range of aids, equipment and other gadgets available is enormous, so you might want to speak with an occupational therapist (OT) to get specific information and advice.
OTs work in the public and private sectors. You can access them through public and private hospitals, community health centres, vocational rehabilitation centres and private practice.
As well as helping you with aids and equipment, OTs can help you learn better ways to do everyday activities to help you:
They can also provide advice about pacing your day and activities so you can achieve a balance between activity and rest.
Aids and equipment commonly used by people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are:
This is a very small list to help you understand some of the options available that can assist you. There are many more aids and equipment available to suit specific tasks and activities.
You may be eligible for assistance with the cost of aids through a government aids and equipment scheme through the Victorian State-wide Equipment Program. This can sometimes help with the cost of aids such as wheelchairs or alterations to bathrooms.
You should talk to your GP or OT about this program and about your eligibility. It’s important to note that there may be a long wait for items available through this scheme.
Sometimes your need for equipment can’t be met commercially and you may need equipment modified or custom-made. Solve Disability Solutions (formerly TADVIC) is a not-for-profit organisation that makes and modifies equipment needs for people with a disability.
Call our MSK Help Line and speak to our nurses. Phone 1800 263 265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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