Adaptive Equipment For Physical Deficits After TBI

Posted on June 29, 2021

A wide variety of adaptive devices are available for TBI patients to increase independence and improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, TBI is one of the leading causes of disability among children and young adults in the U.S. According to the CDC, an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI that results in sensory, cognitive, and motor impairments. 

To help overcome activities of daily living (ADLs) more manageable and increase life quality, adaptive technology and devices most commonly employed are as follows:

  • Mobility devices: Includes Walking poles, canes, walkers and wheelchairs, and scooters. Canes and walkers are used mainly by people who have leg and trunk strength but experience unsteadiness due to muscle weakness. Wheelchairs can be manual or motorized to make mobility easier depending on how much control you have in your legs. You may have to make changes in your home environment so that you can move around easily in the wheelchair. Hand controls and foot pedal adapters for driving are also available easily to assist people with TBI.
  • Adaptive beds: To help avoid bedsores, adaptive beds are available. These beds can inflate and deflate on certain parts of your body, roll you onto your side or back and even help you sit up and get out of bed on your own. 
  • Devices in the kitchen: Adaptive utensils to help you eat, a touch fastener-grip attached to forks and spoons, or bendable foam handles that can be wrapped around the wrist to give a good grip. Angled spoons and forks to help get food into your mouth without bending the wrist. A Rocker knife is available to cut meat with one hand. A one-handed can opener and a pizza cutter to cut softer items can be used for people with disabilities or limited movements in hands. Dycem, a sticky material sheet, or a non-adhesive shelf liner can hold items while stirring food.
  • Adaptive Clothing Aids: To help people with physical and cognitive limitations learning to dress again, there are many assistive options available. A long-handled shoe horn and sock aide to help put on your shoes without having to bend down. Use a dressing stick for reaching out for and wearing and removing socks and clothes. For difficulty in tying shoelaces, try using Velcro-lace shoes or zipper shoes. Shirts and pants with magnet buttons make putting on and taking off clothes much more effortless. In addition, many companies, such as Zappos, have an adaptive shoe line for people with disabilities.
  • Assistive strategies in the bathroom: Shower benches allow TBI patients to bathe safely while sitting and help minimize the risk of falls. Grab bars installed in the bathtub and near the toilet can help a person in and out of the shower or p and down a toilet seat. Raise toilet seats are incredibly convenient for the physically challenged.

Handheld shower sprayers are maneuverable and make washing your body thoroughly easy. Bath mitts and long-handled sponges are cheap and practical tools to help soap up hard-to-reach areas such as foot and back.

Adaptive techniques are helpful and can significantly improve the quality of life for a TBI victim who needs a boost of confidence and independence. However, adaptive equipment can be expensive, and without enough funds or grants, it cannot be easy to afford and maintain. Also, physical therapists call these assistive devices a compensatory tactic. It teaches you to compensate for lost function, which can be great at the start of the recovery process.

However, occupational therapists recommend incorporating restorative techniques into the recovery program to regain lost function and not simply adapt. The ultimate aim of brain injury rehabilitation is to challenge yourself through therapeutic approaches to regain as much function as possible.