Making Life Easier

Summary

  • There are many aids and equipment available to assist you if your condition causes difficulty with everyday tasks or your work
  • An occupational therapist (OT) can advise you on useful gadgets that may help you or explain how to adapt how you do things in order to reduce strain and pain.

On this page

Being diagnosed with a muscle, bone or joint condition can be life changing. Simple daily tasks can become difficult and painful, while managing family life and juggling work can be exhausting. 

To help combat this, there is a large range of aids and equipment available to assist you. Items available include aids to help with cooking, cleaning, bathing, writing, mobility, technology and driving.

The items needed will vary greatly from person to person, so it is a good idea to talk to an occupational therapist and have an individual assessment. 

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Occupational therapists (OT)

Occupational therapists helps you learn better ways to do everyday activities. This helps to:

  • protect your joints
  • reduce the pain caused by performing certain activities 
  • save energy. 

They can also provide advice about pacing your day and activities so as to achieve a balance between activity and rest. 

There are several ways you can access an OT:

  • your GP can refer you to an OT at a local community health centre or hospital 
  • you can access an OT through the Advisory Service of the Independent Living Centre.
  • you can see one privately.

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Aids and equipment

The purpose of all aids and equipment for people with muscle, bone and joint conditions is to:

  • reduce joint stress and prevent joint pain by spreading the weight of objects
  • eliminate tight grasping and pinching which may stress knuckles or cause hand stiffness
  • try and use large muscles more which can more easily take the load
  • save energy and therefore help with fatigue
  • make tasks easier to enable people to maintain independence.

You may not need to purchase special equipment but be able to manage with minor modifications to existing tools and facilities - eg foam rubber can be used to build up handles on cutlery, pens for an easier grip for hands affected by arthritis, a lumbar cushion to provide support to your lower back when sitting.

Or you may find that you need some special equipment for specific situations - eg tap turners to help you turn the water tap on or off, pick-up reachers to help you pick items up off the floor, grab rails beside the bath/shower to help you get in and out of the tub. 

Some of these items can be made and installed by a home handyman or they are readily obtained commercially from medical suppliers, chemists, hardware or other stores.

Your OT can help you work out what aids and equipment you need.

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Common aids and equipment

Aids and equipment commonly used by people with muscle, bone and joint conditions are:  

  • bathroom grips or rails to assist you getting in and out of a bath
  • raised toilet seats to make standing up easier
  • cutlery with built up cylindrical handles for easy grip
  • special mugs with a wide base and two angled handles
  • buttonhooks to fasten buttons
  • long-handled combs and brushes - useful if your shoulder or elbow prevents reaching your head
  • long handled shoe horns to help put on shoes
  • shoes with Velcro fastening instead of laces or slip on shoes  
  • large handled items such as can openers, gardening shears, scissors
  • back supports
  • walking aids - cane, walking stick or frame
  • modified computer keyboard and mouse.

This is a very small list to help you understand some of the options available to help you with the tasks of daily living. There are many more aids and equipment available to suit specific tasks and activities.  

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Independent Living Centre (ILC)

Occupational therapists at the Independent Living Centre are available for consultation and provide information and displays to help people decide on suitable aids. Although people can drop in at any time it is preferred that people call the telephone enquiry service beforehand. This is a free service and can be contacted by calling 1300 885 886. 

State-wide Equipment Program (SWEP)

People may be eligible for assistance with the cost of aids through a government aids and equipment scheme through the State-wide Equipment Program. This can sometimes help with the cost of aids such as wheelchairs or alterations to bathrooms. 

You should talk to your GP or occupational therapist about this program and about your eligibility. It is important to note that there may be a long wait for items available through this scheme.

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Solve Disability Solutions

Sometimes a persons need for equipment cannot be met commercially and they may need equipment modified or custom-made. Solve Disability Solutions (formerly TADVIC) is a not-for-profit organisation that makes and modifies equipment needs for people with a disability. 

Things to remember

  • There are many aids and equipment available to assist you if your condition causes difficulty with everyday tasks or your work
  • An OT can advise you on useful gadgets that may help you or explain how to adapt how you do things in order to reduce strain and pain

Useful resources

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More information

  • Need medical information regarding your condition and commonly prescribed treatments? Or assistance navigating the health, disability and social services systems? Contact our nurses on the Help Line on 1800 263 265 or email helpline@move.org.au
  • Interested in finding out about our upcoming webinars and seminars and other events. Click here to learn more. 

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Move - muscle, bone and joint health, the new voice of Arthritis Victoria

Welcome to MOVE muscle, bone & joint health, the new voice of Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria.

We may have a new name but since 1968 we have been the leading provider of supported solutions and trusted knowledge to the one-in-three Australians who live with these conditions.

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