10 Types of Assistive Devices for MS

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • Gay female Caucasian couple cooking together in home kitchen
    Your MS Toolkit
    When you have multiple sclerosis (MS), symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and impaired vision can interfere with your daily life. Assistive devices are tools designed to overcome these obstacles. The tools range from electric can openers and easy-to-hold combs to sophisticated computer aids and specially adapted vans. But all share a common purpose: making your life easier.
  • can and can opener
    1. Cooking Tools
    Kitchen aids can make cooking more manageable when you have limited hand, wrist, and forearm strength. Examples include electric can and jar openers, lightweight pots and pans, and rocker knives (rounded blades used with a rocking motion for easier cutting).
  • cropped view of woman moving plant from window ledge to dust with yellow duster
    2. Housekeeping Tools
    Household chores are less daunting when you have the right tool for the job. To minimize stretching and bending, you can use a long-handled duster, sponge, or reacher (a tool for grabbing objects from a high shelf or the floor). To reduce lifting, a wheeled cart for your cleaning supplies and laundry may help.
  • Disability accessible home bathroom with grab bars and shower seat
    3. Bathroom Aids
    Bathroom aids can make this essential room safer and more accessible. Examples include a shower chair, grab bar, or nonskid bath mat. Even something as simple as an electric toothbrush with a big handle or toothpaste in a pump dispenser can be helpful if you have a weak grip.
  • Man closing velcro strap of an ankle weight
    4. Grooming Tools
    Easy-to-use clothing fasteners—such as Velcro tabs, elastic shoelaces, buttonhooks, and zipper pulls—can help you dress with success. Combs and brushes can be outfitted with large, padded handles for better grasping. A lighted magnifying mirror comes in handy if your vision is impaired by MS.
  • Woman holding cane
    5. Walking Aids
    Within 15 years of diagnosis, half of people with MS need some help with walking. Many benefit from using braces, a cane, crutches, or a walker for better balance and support. If you need more assistance, a wheelchair or motorized scooter is an option.
  • Mobility
    6. Driving Modifications
    If driving is a challenge, a physical or occupational therapist may recommend adaptive equipment for your vehicle. Examples include hand controls for the gas and brake, an easy-to-turn steering wheel, or a wheelchair transfer board. Before you get behind the wheel, you'll also need training in how to use special driving equipment safely.
  • reading with magnifying glass
    7. Reading Tools
    Vision problems are often an early symptom of MS. In some cases, lenses or magnifiers can help you read printed pages. Your prescription lenses can include added prism to eliminate double vision. When using the computer, consider a large-sized monitor and adjust the screen resolution settings that suit you best. You can also use the zoom feature on your operating system or web browser to enlarge text and images. For further help, a screen-reader program will speak aloud what's on the screen in a computerized voice.
  • Woman writing in journal
    8. Writing Aids
    Writing aids help compensate for limited hand strength. Foam grips for pens and pencils help you grasp them securely. Adjustable office chairs and forearm supports (armrests that attach to your desk) help hold your body in a comfortable writing position.
  • Front view of comfortable working place in office
    9. Typing Alternatives
    If typing on a keyboard or using a mouse is difficult, technology offers several solutions. You might use an alternative input device, such as a large-key keyboard, touch pad, ergonomic mouse, joystick, or trackball. Or, you might use voice recognition software to control the computer with your voice.
  • middle age man smiling at smartphone with laptop, working or socializing
    10. Scheduling Tools
    Many people with MS have mild problems with memory and concentration. The calendar function on a computer or smartphone can help you remember important appointments and daily tasks. The memo function is convenient for grocery and to-do lists. Many of these apps can be voice-operated.
10 Types of Assistive Devices for Multiple Sclerosis
  1. Multiple Sclerosis and Mobility-Related Assistive Technology: Systematic Review of Literature. A. Souza et al. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 2010, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 213-24.
  2. Forearm Supports. U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network. http://askjan.org/cgi-win/OrgQuery.exe?Sol162
  3. Writing Aids. U.S. Department of Labor's Job Accommodation Network. http://askjan.org/cgi-win/OrgQuery.exe?Sol200
  4. Advocating for Your Child's Academics. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/caregiver-child-academics.php
  5. Rehabilitation. American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging. http://www.healthinaging.org/agingintheknow/chapters_print_ch_trial.asp?ch=13
  6. Assistive Devices. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/assistive...
  7. Dexterity: Technology Solutions for Dexterity Challenges. National Multiple Sclerosis Society, undated, http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/assistive...
  8. Technology Solutions. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/assistive...
  9. Vision: Technology Solutions for Vision Challenges, National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/assistive...
  10. Buying an Adapted Vehicle. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/buying-an...
  11. Make Your Bathroom Safer and Easier to Use. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/environme...
  12. Promoting Function, Independence, and Mobility. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/index.asp... 
  13. You Can…Manage Fatigue. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/you-can/manage-fatigue/index.aspx
  14. Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple_sclerosis/detail_multiple_sclerosis.htm
  15. Assistive Devices. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.rorc.research.va.gov/rescue/independent-living/assistive-devices.cfm
Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 27
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.