Dr. Clint Woo, DPT, PT
Useful Therapy Tools To Use At Home!
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
I encounter this situation a lot...a client describes to me a tool they used once upon a time that was amazing, but they couldn't remember the name or the type. I would sit down with them scouring the web until we found what they were looking for and definitely noticed a trend over the years. In this article, I hope to provide links to these devices, their use, and one that sounds to be the most well-designed or can attest to there quality from personal experience. Consult your PT (available at Woo Physical Therapy and Wellness) or physician before using any of these devices. Enjoy!
Just got home from a knee or hip replacement? Don't currently have the balance to reach down due to a recent hospitalization? A leg lift, sock aid, and reacher may be extremely useful! Back when I used to work in a hospital, it was standard practice to provide patients after joint replacement with tools for helping with independence. In the past few years, we've noticed that patients are not even aware of these devices and their children, neighbors, or caretakers are tasked with lifting the patient's legs for them whenever they need to move! This may not seem like a lot of times, but trust me, you are moving your legs constantly to stand up and stretch, go to the bathroom, answer the phone, and more! A leg lifter is really useful to allow yourself to move the leg on your own on and off the bed. A sock aid is useful (if not mandatory, depending on the type of hip replacement or back surgery you had) to avoid bending your trunk! Reachers similarly allow for you grab things that are out of reach due to any surgical precautions and if you want to avoid climbing up on unsafe surfaces! These devices are simple, but a game changer for being independent! Click HERE to see the leg lift! Click HERE to see the sock aid! Click HERE to see the reacher!
Have trouble getting into your bathtub because you are "non weight bearing" after a surgery or have poor balance? The tub bench is an excellent way to safely sit from outside the tub and then simply slide over to inside! Click here! You want one like this where it has the adjustable leg heights and enough width to accommodate various bathtub sizes.
Don't have the funds or time to install grab bars to stand up from the toilet? Use a commode that goes right over the toilet which instantly gives you handle bars! Just remove the bowl and you can use your regular toilet!
Have trouble sitting up from supine (lying down on your back) than standing up from sitting? Use a bed rail such as this. These shorter types of bed rails are better than the ones designed to stop children from rolling off the bed because it doesn't stop you from sitting up!
The wheelchair is a very intricate topic because it should be customized to the person more so than any other device on this list! A therapist needs to review what the level of mobility, cognition, and goals are there when it comes to wheelchair. Not to mention, you need to consider the size of the person and home environment. Click here for a "transport wheelchair" which is exactly that; a wheelchair used purely to transfer someone from one location to another (house to car to doctor's office) and nothing more! These are NOT meant for long term sitting (perhaps 30 min plus) especially without a seat cushion. These are lightweight to make it easy to fold for the car and can only be propelled by someone else (not the person sitting in the chair) to make the wheels smaller. If you sit in the chair without a seat cushion, you increased risk of pressure injury (formerly called bed sores)! There are other types of chairs that are used for more long term sitting (hours at a time), but you should 100% refer to a PT which one to choose. These types vary in weight, size, construction, abilities (quick turns vs one-arm use vs sports oriented vs good for those with blood pressure issues-tilt in spaces vs motorized vs off-road)...the list goes on! For general rule of them when considering the size of transport wheelchair, use the two finger width rule. When sitting in the chair, you should be able to fit between 2-3 finger widths from each thigh to the arm rest. This prevents the thighs from being compressed while also making sure you are not slumping over sideways when there is too much room. In regards to the depth of the seat, again make sure there is 2-3 finger widths of space behind the knees and the end of the seat rest. This makes sure the knees have the freedom to bend when needed without anything digging in the skin. Seat height from the floor depends on if the individual uses their feet to propel them, but in general it is good to have the thighs parallel with the ground. Back rest height depends on how much trunk support is needed. A high height is useful for those who struggle with sitting upright, but restricts the ability to reach back to touch the wheels for self-propulsion.
Seat cushions are also very complex in terms of picking the right one. Generic foam ones like this one are good for just making sure you are not sitting on a sling bottom of a standard wheelchair. Foam is lightweight so easy for transport, but do get beat up and lose shape over time. Gel cushions are heavy and can absorb heat, but conform very nicely do you unique shape. Air cushions are also lightweight and can be shaped the way you want them to be, but can leak and might offer too much mobility when sitting on one (I think of a person sloshing around in one when it isn't a good fit - a bit exaggerated, but hopefully it drives my point).
Does your body run very warm? If the heat is the issue for getting better sleep, then try something like this ventilated blanket here!
Got naughty knots? Try a theracane! A theracane has a really cool design that helps you target those hard-to-reach places! Also, the pressure (and time) often required to take down a pesky knot can fatigue/hurt your hands. This cane allows for you to put a sufficient pressure at an extended period of time to make it worth it! Click HERE to see! Also perhaps look into percussive equipment! Several patients are reporting faster recovery from activities after using a device like this!
Been cleared by a doctor for use of a TENS unit for pain? A Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) can be an incredibly effective means of taking the edge off pain! Find one that is simple to use and practice with your PT! Click HERE to see!
Tried icing your shoulder, but then find it impossible to keep the ice from falling off? Look no more! This ice pack is specifically designed to accommodate the unique shape of the shoulder. Not only that, the ice pack has a velcro sash that doesn't require you to hold it up with the other arm! You could get up and and go about your business! Finally, the sleeve is inflatable so you can add a compression component to your anti-inflammation! Click HERE to see!
Been diagnosed with cervical disc herniation and/or stenosis? Been cleared for cervical decompression by a PT or physician? Then this device is useful for creating some gentle space in your neck! Definitely trial this device with a health professional multiple times before using on your own, but patients love this device as a way decompress the pressure on a pinched nerve! Click HERE to see!
Been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome? Numbness and tingling in the hands? You may be sleeping with your wrists in a fetal position! You may try a wrist cock-up splint to prevent your wrists from flexing during your sleep which would compress the median nerve into your thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger! This can even used when performing activities such as typing on a computer! Click HERE to see!
Working on your balance? Finding a squishy surface can be a great way to challenge yourself and build ankle/knee/hip/core stability after a PT shows you how! Click HERE to check it out!
Long foam rolls! Incredibly versatile! Excellent for working on your posture, core strength, and flexibility! If its your first time using one, then go for a softer one as the body can react poorly to too much pressure all of the sudden. With a long foam roll (36 inches), you can lie down vertically on it with your bottom to your head supported and perform various core exercises! You can also roll out the upper spine, IT Bands, hamstrings, quads, calves, and so on! Click HERE to see!
Cones are so underrated! Go for the 9 inch, flexible ones to start! You can use them for balance and coordination, agility drills, etc! It's useful to have items that are OK with you crushing them and are easy to see for running around! Click HERE to see!
The treatment table! This has been surprisingly popular given the size and price of the item, but I realize that as people are becoming more comfortable with concierge physical therapy for QUALITY of care, they are willing to invest in proper equipment. A treatment table allows for surface of the perfect height and soft vs firm feeling! I hear it all the time: "my bed is too soft and the floor is too hard!". Really, a treatment table is perfect for exercises of all kinds because that it was designed for. It even has a space for your face to lie downwards without turning your neck! Click HERE to see!
Always consult a physical therapist or physician before use of any of these devices! This video is not sponsored, but does contain Amazon affiliate links.
This is not intended to be professional advice. Please speak with a physician or physical therapist. Invest in yourself with a concierge physical therapist. We at Woo Physical Therapy and Wellness are proud to serve the Anne Arundel, Howard, and Prince George's counties in-home and online anywhere in the U.S.A.!!