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Adaptive Equipment Use and Its Effectiveness

Person sitting in chair and using adaptive equipment to assist putting on socks.


Adaptive equipment can help many individuals be independent in completing their self-care tasks.

Reaching the feet and legs to complete dressing tasks such as putting on socks, shoes, and pants can be quite difficult if one is having trouble bending whether that is from a back injury/pain, balance issues, or a stroke, etc.

The adaptive equipment extends your reach to reduce bending and reaching forward required to place socks, shoes, or pants on.

There are several common pieces of equipment that can be utilized for dressing and bathing tasks such as:

  • A reacher which is a device with a trigger that’s used to pick up items. It’s also used to hold pants to extend down to the foot, remove socks, or to place shoes on the feet. The reacher can also be used to hold a washcloth or towel to wash/dry the legs/feet.
  • A sock aide helps a person get their socks on by placing a sock on the device and using the straps to extend the device down to the feet and then pulling on the cords. The sock is then removed from the device and placed on the foot.
  • A long-handled sponge allows for bathing of the lower extremities and back.

A study was conducted of chronic lower back pain patients seen at a major hospital to determine the effectiveness of nine types of adaptive equipment prescribed.

The effectiveness was evaluated using frequency of use and perceived benefit. Of the adaptive equipment in possession by these patients, 87.5 percent were still in use and 85 percent were considered to be of some benefit.

The number of occupational therapy sessions was significantly associated with an increased frequency of use and perceived benefit of the adaptive equipment.

Occupational therapists prescribe assistive devices and adaptive equipment to enhance independent performance of activities of daily living.

This article was written by Melissa Jaworski, MOTR/L. Melissa is the Occupational Therapist practicing at the Phoenix Physical Therapyilitation in Mount Pleasant and Latrobe, PA. She has been practicing occupational therapy for 21 years.

References: The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, Volume: 10 issue: 2, page(s): 111-121

Issue published: March 1, 1990