October 6, 2022
Assistive Devices and Aids for People with Parkinson’s
Assistive Technology, Devices and Mobility Aids for People with Parkinson’s
As Parkinson’s progresses, the tremors, slow movements, and rigidity it causes can lead to mobility issues. Thanks to a number of assisted technologies, devices, and mobility aids, you can prepare your home for the future and maintain your independence in many ways.
Many Parkinson’s patients have trouble communicating as their disease progresses. Some have trouble finding their voice and might begin stuttering or speaking too low to understand. Here are some devices that can help you communicate better.
- Beats Medical Parkinson’s App — This app has daily speech exercises to help you improve your voice clarity and volume and real-time feedback after completing the exercises.
- Portable voice amplifiers — Wearable amplifiers help your loved ones hear you better if you speak softly.
- Text-to-speech apps — Apps like Clarocom work well if you still have digit mobility but have trouble communicating orally.
Many Parkinson’s patients experience freezing of gait (FoG), a gait pattern characterized by the inability to step that occurs on initiation or turning while walking, particularly with perception of tight surroundings.
Here are some mobility devices that help you get around better.
Choose a straight cane with a rubber tip. Although you might think quad or tripod canes are more supportive, they can be difficult for Parkinson’s patients to use because the legs don’t touch the ground simultaneously.
If you’re not a fan of straight canes, sometimes hiking poles or trekking sticks are a good alternative. Ask your physical therapist if these devices are safe for you. While speaking with your physical therapist, ask them to adjust your cane or other mobility devices to the right height to support you best.
You might also consider a laser cane. These innovative canes project a laser in front of you while you walk, helping you stay steady and keep you headed in the right direction.
You might find a walker is more suitable for your needs. Walkers provide more stability, but avoid walkers that must be picked up to move. Instead, use walkers with wheels, swivel casters, and hand brakes. Many Parkinson’s patients prefer walkers because they can attach a basket to it to help them carry items from room-to-room.
If you like the idea of laser assistance but prefer a walker over a cane, consider purchasing an adaptive laser like the ones offered by Nexstride.
As your Parkinson’s advances, you might find a wheelchair is more comfortable. If you only need the wheelchair for temporary use, like when traveling, choose one that’s lightweight and easy to get in and out of a vehicle. When you need a wheelchair more often, look for models that include the following:
- Reclining chair backs
- Elevated leg rests
- Seat elevation
- Pressure relieving cushioning
Moving safely around the house will require more daily assistive devices as your Parkinson’s progresses. Keep your bedroom clutter-free to avoid tripping. Also, consider these special equipment and aids:
- Chairs with firm seats and armrests
- Knee-high bedframes
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous places for Parkinson’s patients. Here are some aids to make this part of your home safer.
- Rubber mats or non-slip stickers on the tub or shower floors
- Grab bars or handrails placed strategically throughout the bathroom near the toilet, shower, and bathtubs
- Transfer tub seats
- Handheld shower hose
- Raised toilet seat to make rising easier
Preparing meals and cleaning up afterward will get more difficult over time. Consider incorporating the following into your kitchen routine.
- Keep everything within easy-to-reach distance and grouped by purpose to eliminate unnecessary trips back and forth to the pantry or cabinets
- Prepare meals while seated if your mobility issues affect your ability to stand safely
- Hang utensils at an accessible height on a pegboard for easy retrieval
- Remove kitchen rugs to prevent tripping
To ensure your independence as long as possible, speak frankly with your medical team to find the best technology, assistive devices, and aids for you. You can live well despite your condition!
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