My Top 10 RA Assistive Devices

Patient Expert

“If you were stranded on a desert island, what 10 things would you bring?”

You may have done that activity at school or even had this discussion with friends. Ask this question of someone who has rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and their answer could be very different from those who don’t.

Are you curious to discover what I use on a regular basis to help me move through life with RA? Wonder no more.

Here are 10 of my favorites, in no particular order:

1. ** Thick-handled knives** – Make sure you check out the knife before purchasing. How does it feel in your hand? Does it fit well? How about the weight? Remember to keep your knives sharp – you'll have a cleaner cut, plus you won't have to work so hard to slice and dice your way to a nutritious meal.

2. ** Food processor** – Mine has pride-of-place on the counter. It makes light work of food preparation. Look for one with a variety of attachments so you can easily cover a lot of cooking ground.

3. ** Nutcracker** – No, they're not just for nuts It's a quick and easy way to open bottles. Place the nutcracker around the bottle cap and turn. I even keep one in the car.

4. ** Disposable glove** – Since I try to keep my purse as light as possible, I've tucked away a disposable glove that I use to provide traction when no other help is available. Water bottles and door handles become manageable.

5. ** Long-handled shoe horn** - Cinderella's step sisters may have had a better chance at winning Prince Charming if they'd had one of these. This was a required item when I went for my first hip replacement, and I've continued using it.

6. ** Barbecue tongs** – I use mine to get at those items that “hide” at the back of the kitchen cupboards, either way up high or down low. (I also have “reachers,” but I keep them in other parts of the house.)

7. Foot stoolProp up both feet. Rest one foot while you are doing dishes or working at the counter, or keep one in front of your washing machine . Use it in the shower to better shave your legs. Always be safe and make sure your foot stool has non-slip feet.

8. ** Zip-It Opener** – Become Superman or Superwoman with this little device! I highly recommend it for those clam shell packages, battery packs and other items that might as well be sealed in kryptonite.

9. Rolling cart, ** backpack**, or suitcase – If you have wheels, you will travel further. Whether it's shopping, work-related, or recreational, roll your way into greater ease by packing your things into a rolling cart, backpack or suitcase.

10. ** Pillows** – My husband calls it my nest. I have a number of pillows on the bed to provide the support I need, where I need it. I use a feather pillow for my head because I can push the feathers around to where I need the support. I am flanked by two foam pillows, all the better to support my arms when I’m lying on my side.

Speaking of rolling, I perfected the log-roll post-hip replacement when I was required to have a pillow between my legs. I chose a king-sized pillow because of the length of my legs. Years later, I still use the pillow between my knees. It's just that comfortable. If you have hip or knee pain, try the log roll when you want to switch sides.

Here's how to do a log roll: Place a pillow between your legs. Squeeze your legs together. In one movement, roll your whole body to the other side.

We've come a long way, baby!

When I first developed RA 37 years ago, there weren't a lot of assistive devices available. For example, if you wanted a thick-handled knife, you visited the occupational therapist, who would then mold a handle onto the knife for you.

I make sure I spend a bit of time reflecting upon how thankful I am for the wide range of devices that can now be easily found at a pharmacy, in a dollar store and on the -nternet. (Gratitude is a great stress “undresser”, by the way.) With a better understanding of kinesiology and how rheumatoid arthritis impacts movement, occupational therapists and designers are better able to make products that meet the needs of people with RA.

Get creative!

Necessity can breed creativity. RA has taught me to become more resourceful. I love finding alternate uses for everyday objects, like using nut crackers and barbecue tongs.

Have you found some creative and inexpensive ways to get things done?

Which 10 things would you take to that desert island? Yes, that island happens to be equipped with a source of power!

**See More Helpful Articles:
** Making the Functional Beautiful: Cutlery for Arthritis Hands Travel Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis 10 Easy RA Cleaning Tips Tips for Managing Infection Risk Sleep and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Marianna Paulson is known as Auntie Stress. On her website, you'll find links to her two blogs, Auntie Stress Cafe and the award-winning, A Rheumful of Tips. She also publishes a mostly monthly newsletter called The Connective Issue. Sign up here to receive information, tips, and to learn about giveaways.