Assistive technologies

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Assistive technologies, also called adaptive technologies, include all those clever products, tools, and devices that make life and functioning easier. These types of innovative labor and energy saving tools are part of your survival kit if you have MS and include small and seemingly insignificant devices like the roller knife and buttonhook, as well as sophisticated technologies like electric-powered scooters and software developed to assist with speech and language.

You may need to consult with the physical therapist, occupational therapist, or another member of your rehabilitation team to find the assistive technologies that will give you the most benefit and to learn how to use them correctly and safely.

The list below provides examples of some assistive technologies organized by functional area, including mobility, hand and arm function, home chores, communications and computers, home access, and driving.

Assistive Technologies: Functional area / Product or Device

Walking and mobility
  • Canes and crutches, including forearm crutch, quad cane
  • Walkers, including 4-wheeled rollator walker
  • Wheelchair (manual or motorized)
  • Motorized scooter
  • Ankle-foot orthosis or AFO, including post leaf spring and carbon AFOs
  • Functional electrical stimulation or FES
  • Hip flexion assist device
Hand and arm function
  • Long-handled shoehorn, elastic shoe laces, Velcro closure shoes
  • Stocking aid, buttonhook, elastic thread
  • Reachers
  • Card or book holders
  • Fingertip moistener
  • Heavier utensils (brand: Knork Flatware) to counteract tremor
  • Cups or glasses with lids, plates with lips
  • Signature stamp, large diameter textured pen or pencil, Writing Bird or other pen/pencil holders, plastic writing guides
  • Smart pen (uses a recording feature to help with note-taking)
  • Digital recorder
Sitting
  • Cushions or leg extenders to raise level of seating
  • Lift chairs, devices that assist in sitting and getting up from chairs (brand: UpEasy Assist)
Home chores
  • Rocker knife, utensils with built-up handles (brand: Good Grips utensils), cutting boards with feature to stabilize item being cut
  • Wheeled carts for kitchen items
  • Cooling vest (to counteract heat of kitchen stove)
Communication and computer
  • Video communication systems (computer-based)
  • Speakerphones or phone headset for hands-free function
  • Voice recognition software for phone and computer
  • Driving:
  • Hand controls for acceleration or braking
  • Cargo mount for transport of wheelchair or scooter
Home access
  • Ramps
  • Mechanical lift or elevator
  • Handrails
  • Bathroom safety and personal hygiene:
  • Toilet safety frame, tub transfer bench, shower chair, clamp-on tub grab bar and other types of grab bars, hand-held shower hose, bathtub lift
  • Extra high toilets and sinks

 

Sources for information about assistive technologies

Several organizations provide useful information about assistive and adaptive technologies. Some of these are described in the table below.

Resources for Information on Assistive Technologies

National Rehabilitation Information Center for Independence
8201 Corporate Drive, Ste 600, Landover, MD 20785
Tel 800-346-2742
E-mail: naricinfo@heitechservices.com
Source for info and referrals on equipment for rehabilitation and AT
Some services provided at a cost
AbleData
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 930, Silver Springs, MD 20910
Tel: 800-227-0216
Web site: www.abledata.com
E-mail: abledata@macrointernational.com
Source for info on AT and equipment for rehabilitation
Database of more than 29,000 products that you can search by subject or product type
The Independent Living Research Utilization at TIRR
2323 S. Shepherd, Suite 1000, Houston, TX 77019
Tel: 713-520-0232
Web site: www.ilru.org
E-mail: ilru@ilru.org
Clearinghouse for info, research, and training in resources for independent living
AbilityHub
Web site: www.abilityhub.com
Information and technical assistance for people who have difficulty with computers
SpeciaLiving Magazine
Web site: www.specialiving.com
Publication devoted to information about products and resources that make living easier for individuals who are mobility-challenged
National Institute for Rehabilitation Engineering
P.O. Box T, Hewett, NJ 07421
Tel: 800-736-2216/973-853-6585
Web site: www.angelfire.com/nj/nire2
E-mail: nire@theoffice.net
Source for AT devices custom-made for people with disabilities
Onsite training available
Services offered on a sliding fee scale
Paralyzed Veterans of America
801 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20006-3517
Tel: 800-416-7645
Web site: www.pva.org
Offers information and services for people with disabilities including paralysis (not limited to veterans)
Useful architectural design information
World Institute on Disability
3075 Adeline Street, Ste 280, Berkeley, CA 94703
Tel: 510-225-6400
TTY: 510-225-0478
Fax: 510-225-0477
Web site: www.wid.org
E-mail: wid@wid.org
Devoted to promoting full social integration, increased employment, economic security, and access to healthcare for persons with disabilities
Lighthouse
111 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022-1202
Tel: 800-829-0500
Web site: www.lighthouse.org
E-mail: info@lighthouse.org
Information on resources for people with vision problems
Includes link to Vision Connection, a service that provides that latest information on technologies and services for people with vision problems, including locally available resources
Institute for Human Centered Design
200 Portland Street, Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-695-1225 (v/tty)
Fax: 617-482-8099
Web site: www.humancentereddesign.org
E-mail: info@HumanCenteredDesign.org
Devoted to the role of design in benefiting people of all abilities
The Home Wheelchair Ramp Project
Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, Inc. (MCIL)
1600 University Avenue West, Suite 16, St. Paul, MN 55104-3825
Tel: 651-603-2029
Web site: www.wheelchairramp.org
E-mail: jimwi@mcil-mn.org
Instructions for building home ramps to increase accessibility
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America
1700 N. Moore Street, Suite 1540, Arlington, VA 22209-1903
Tel: 703-524-6686
Web site: www.resna.org
Devoted to developing and disseminating information about technologies for helping people with disabilities
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