Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Trouble with Mobility Aids for People with RA

By Karen McNaught

There are lots of different kinds of mobility aids out there for people who have trouble getting about. You can use a cane or a walker, a scooter or a wheelchair… It’s great, right?

Well… unfortunately, these “aids” expect that ONLY your hips/knees/ankles/feet/toes hurt. When I am in even the tiniest flare, my wrists hurt and my grip strength is non-existent. Sound familiar? How am I going to grip the handle of a walker and LEAN on it with sore hands/wrists/arms/elbows/shoulders?

Last year, I celebrated my 40th birthday in the midst of a flare, by going to Disney World in Florida. I swallowed my pride and rented a scooter. It was honestly the best decision I ever made and allowed me to enjoy my time there (and no one wants to spend that kind of money to not be able to enjoy it!). But I will say, gripping the handle to operate the scooter was hard on my thumb joints (the handle has a lever operated by squeezing with your thumb to put the scooter in forward or reverse motion). My family also went to Busch Gardens, and the handle on Scooter #2 was even harder to squeeze. Is it possible that a really good, expensive, private scooter has handles that are easier to squeeze? Possibly.



Finally, a mobility aid I can get into!

I recently saw someone with a walker and, while waiting in a long line, discovered the one RA-friendly feature – you can SIT on it while you’re waiting! It’s a portable seat! Now if only I could have a seat somehow attached to me so that I didn’t need to push it around everywhere I go…

Online suggestions for people with RA include parking closer to the store (except you still have to get out of your car, into the store, and move around the store), and getting a car with automatic transmission and power windows and locks (would be great if the car door opened and closed for you, too, right?). I have a push button ignition which is so much easier than turning a key. When my hands are very sore, I use workout gloves to help me grip the steering wheel (at least they get some use this way!). I’m also able to telework 4 days/week so I only have to force myself to drive anywhere one day/week. One source said to move to a bungalow (if only it were that easy!).

What do you use to get around?

*I want to thank my wonderful friend Karen for sharing this post and for being a great friend.  I hope we get to hear more from her. ~Cathy