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Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Adaptive Equipment for Hand Arthritis

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Adaptive Equipment for Hand Arthritis

Hand arthritis can have a huge impact on performance of daily tasks.  Activities like brushing your teeth or opening a jar can be painful and challenging.   If you have pain and limitations due to hand arthritis, there are many products available to help improve hand function.

Automatic toothpaste dispenser

There are a variety of automatic toothpaste dispensers. The cost ranges from $3 to $20.  These dispensers allow you to screw the bottom of the toothpaste tube into the device and press a button to dispense toothpaste onto your brush.  Some are free-standing on your counter top and shaped similarly to a hand soap dispenser while others are wall-mounted.

Automatic jar opener

An automatic jar opener is a small device that fits easily into a kitchen drawer and opens jars without stressing your hands and joints.  To use, place the jar opener onto a glass jar and press the button.  The arms on the device squeeze the sides of your jar while the top rotates loosening the lid. They work on a variety of different jar sizes (e.g. minced garlic to pickle jars) and cost approximately $30.

Automatic wine opener

This is similar to the jar opener removing wine corks from a bottle with little effort.  Place the device on top of your wine bottle and press the button.  The opener removes the cork in approximately 10 seconds and with a press of the reverse button will release the cork from the opener. 

For cooking

Constant gripping while stirring can be stressful for your hands.  Automatic stirring devices are available as a free-standing device or one that rests on the lip of your pot and prices start at approximately $25. 

Adaptive knives with alternative handle grips can also decrease your hand pain.  For example, an “L” shape or a rounded bottom knife places the hand in a less stressful position to use a rocking or slicing motion to cut food. 

Chopping devices can also be helpful.  Most chopping devices work by pushing a blade into the food item as you close the lid of the container or as you push down on a large button.  The chopped pieces of food fall into a collection bowl below. Avoid pressure directly to the base of the thumb with these type of devices.

Other suggestions for adaptive equipment for bathing tasks

Squeezing shampoo or body wash bottles can be especially painful.  Try exchanging the original bottles for a pump-style bottle.  Also a silicone body scrubber does not require the forceful gripping like wringing a traditional wash cloth.  These are soft and come in a variety of textures and colors.

Each individual places different demands on his/her hands, so the suggestions for adaptive equipment can vary greatly.  Reducing  some of the daily stress on your hands will allow you to do more activities you enjoy with less pain.  Your Hand Therapist can offer suggestions specific to the activities that matter most to you.  Take a look at these tips for meal prep from ASHT.

Gwen Morris, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, CLT is a Certified Hand Therapist and a member of the American Society of Hand Therapists.