person assisting man with knee brace

Tools that may help with your mobility

Equipment to help you manage everyday tasks

Symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) can sometimes interfere with daily activities. By making simple changes to your everyday life, you may be able to better adapt to MS. Here, you’ll find some suggestions for tools and equipment that can help you on the move, at work, or on the road.

Always speak with your doctor before purchasing a product specifically for your MS. He or she can help you find the best product that meets your needs. Also, check if you can get help purchasing these devices from an insurance program or patient advocacy group.

People Walking on Street

On the move

Walking, as well as other forms of mobility, can be a fairly common problem for people with MS. Some of the assistive and mobility devices currently available include:

  • Orthoses (braces)—An ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) is the brace most commonly used to support the ankle and foot when walking, and to prevent foot drop. Foot drop is a condition caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot during walking
  • Functional electrical stimulation (FES)—A technique that uses mild electrical currents to stimulate the nerves that activate muscles weakened or paralyzed by injury or disease. In MS, FES can be used to help people who have difficulty lifting their foot independently when they walk (“foot drop”)
  • Canes—If you feel unsteady when you walk, a cane can potentially help prevent you from losing your balance. The 2 major types are:
    • Single-point canes: These are the most common type of canes, with a single point touching the floor
    • Multipoint or quad canes: These canes have multiple support points touching the floor, which make them able to stand on their own and provide additional support for the user
  • Crutches—Crutches can provide stability when you walk, help to offload your body weight from your legs, and potentially reduce your risk of falls. The 2 types of crutches available are:
    • Underarm crutches: Often used on a temporary basis for lower extremity weakness or injuries
    • Forearm (Loftstrand) crutches: More often used for long-term use because they have arm cuffs that cradle the forearms, and handgrips for support. Forearm crutches may be more comfortable than underarm crutches because they are used by slipping the arms into cuffs and holding the grip rather than by fitting into the armpit
  • Walkers and wheeled walkers (rollators)—In comparison to canes and crutches, walkers have a wider base for more support. Walkers come in 2 basic types, each with many different variations:
    • Standard walker: A standard walker has a basic aluminum frame that folds, is height adjustable, and is available with or without wheels
    • Rollator: Easier to maneuver than the standard walker, and usually has several additional features that may include larger caster wheels, a seat bench, basket, and handbrakes
  • Manual wheelchairs—Designed to provide mobility from a seated position. Manual wheelchairs can be self-propelled by rotating the hand rims with your arms
  • Pushrim-activated power-assist wheelchairs (PAPAWs)—Developed to help people who have difficulty propelling a manual wheelchair over surfaces encountered on a daily basis. PAPAWs are units for manual wheelchairs that include specialized wheels with battery-operated motors mounted on the frame
  • Motorized scooters—Controlled through a mechanical tiller system, scooters are available with 3 or 4 wheels, and most can be disassembled for transport. Scooters can be found in different sizes and with different weight capacities

Workspace

At work

Some employees with MS rely on assistive technology (AT) to allow them to perform at work and help achieve the same results as other employees. Some ATs include:

  • Ergonomic or adapted keyboards, keypads and handgrips—Specialized computer keyboard designed to minimize muscle strain and discomfort
  • Screen readers—Software program for the computer identifies and interprets the screen display and then presents it to the user in text-to-speech formats
  • Screen magnifiers or larger computer screens—A useful product that increases the size of the content being displayed on your screen
  • Voice recognition software—Technology that allows you to write, surf the Internet, or give commands without having to physically type
  • Hand tools with accessible features and do-it-yourself devices—Tools such as hammers, measuring instruments, wrenches, screwdrivers, and paintbrushes are available with accessible features to assist employees with varied limitations

Winding Open Road

On the road

Specialized adaptive equipment may help you adjust to issues that may interfere with your driving, including:

 

  • Hand devices to help you operate the gas and brake
  • A spinner knob for your steering wheel to help with turning
  • Hi-tech devices for gas, brake, and steering control. These may be an option for those with more involved physical impairments, although extensive training is required and the costs may be quite high
  • Large side-view mirrors, and a wide angle rear-view mirror
  • Customized seats that can help with getting in and out of your car
  • Compartments for stowing wheelchairs and assistive devices
  • Specialized automobiles equipped with a ramp or lift to improve wheelchair access

MS can make everyday tasks seem like everyday challenges. These are just some suggestions to discuss with your doctors or other members of your healthcare team.