Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic disease causing inflammation in the joints and resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles. Early diagnosis of RA and effective treatment with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are essential to reduce joint destruction and disability. Late diagnosis greatly increases the risk of erosive joint damage. Once mechanical damage has occurred, pain and joint deformity often requires aids and appliances and eventually surgery.
Rheumatoid arthritis can make even the simplest tasks difficult. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but the desire to make everyday tasks pain-free is what’s driving the development of new tools, gadgets, and technologies for rheumatoid arthritis. If you have RA, once-simple tasks like buttoning your shirt or opening a jar can become an ordeal. These easy-to-use RA gadgets and devices can come to the rescue.
Discussed below are some of the most helpful innovations to assist with the most important aspects of daily life:
- E-Health Trackers
Numerous mobile apps are available for iPhone and Android devices to help you keep better track of your health. Use these apps, many of which are free, to chart your nutrition, fitness, sleep, medication, and symptoms. According to Patience White, MD, vice president for public health policy and advocacy at the Arthritis Foundation, you can track your activities and your pain level, which also gives the doctor a much clearer picture of your day-to-day life.
- Dressing Aids
Putting on clothes can become a pain with arthritic fingers, but devices such as zipper pulls and button hooks make the task much easier. Extension tools are available to help you pull on socks, slip on shoes, and even slide on bracelets. In addition, many items of clothing are available with Velcro fasteners, and elastic shoelaces let you turn lace-up shoes into snug slip-ons.
- Exercise Video Games
Video game systems that use cameras or handheld gadgets to track gamers’ movements can be a double boon to those with rheumatoid arthritis. According to Maura Daly Iversen, PT, DPT, MPH, a professor and chair of the physical therapy department at North-eastern University in Boston, The video games allow patients to work on stability, strength, and range of motion while they’re also having fun.
- Personal Hygiene Aids
Grooming tools such as razors, toothbrushes, nail trimmers, tweezers, hair dryers, and electric shavers are now available with features such as large or long handles and big buttons to make them easier for people with RA to use.
- Gear for Yard and House-work
Look for garden hoses with thick connector sleeves that make them easy to attach and gardening shears that have built-in gears for heavy cutting work. For housework, ergonomic tools and appliances, from vacuums to wrenches, have been designed to reduce stress and anxiety, strain on wrists, forearms, and elbows.
- Mobility Aids for the Car
Many tools are available to help you drive safely. These include seat belt handles to help you buckle up, slides and swivels so you can ease yourself behind the wheel, support handles for getting out of the car, and panoramic rear-view mirrors to reduce the need to turn your head. Wide key holders make it easier to turn on the ignition, and special gas cap openers will help when it’s time to fill up.
- Kitchen tools
Innovative gadgets make cooking less daunting when you’re coping with rheumatoid arthritis. At the grocery store, look for packaging that’s easier on sore wrists, such as easy-to-open jars and freezer bags that take less coordination to seal. Choose kitchen utensils with larger handles that make them easier to grip. Devices such as electric can openers, fixed jar openers, food choppers, and food processors with a variety of cutting blades reduce the need to use your hands for tasks like slicing and chopping. Also consider a richer, a tool you can use to grab jars and cans on high shelves.
RA affects between 0.5 and 1% of adults in the developed world with between 5 and 50 per 100,000 people newly developing the condition each year. Onset is most frequent during middle age and women are affected 2.5 times as much as frequently as men. The above technological aids will help ease the way of life for those who are suffering from the condition. Their lives changes drastically after being diagnosed with RA thus most of the tasks they could perform easily becomes a nightmare. Researching the above equipment will greatly help them ease not only the pain but also their lives.
Do you (or somebody you know) live with arthritis? What ways – technological or otherwise – have you been able to work around it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.