Need help now? Call our 24/7 confidential hotline:877-888-0552

Adaptive Equipment: An Illustrated Guide

Want to Help Seniors?

Please help us grow our network by volunteering for support groups.


For people who have difficulty
performing daily tasks (e.g. feeding, washing or dressing)
secondary to physical impairment, adaptive equipment may
enable independence. The following illustrated monograph
is written to provide an introduction to examples of such
adaptive devices.


HygieneTooth Brushing (limited hand
Upper body washing
The Universal Cuff
DressingReaching assist
Putting on Socks without bending
Use of a dressing stick
Zippering/buttoning with poor hand dexterity
FeedingScooping food with
one hand
Cutting food with one hand
Managing a feeding utensil with poor hand strength
Bathing Tub and Shower


Brush Holder

Brush Holder

Using only one
hand, a scrub brush with suction cups can be adhered to a
sink surface to clean fingernails or to enable cleaning
of dentures.


Wash mit

A wash mitt fastens with
Velcro® around the wrist. It can be used when hand
strength is inadequate for grasp of a washcloth.

Universal Cuff
(palmar view)

Universal Cuff

universal cuff is used to hold utensils or devices in a
hand that has little to no grip ability. It is called
"universal" cuff for the reason that it can be
used with almost any object that can be slid into the
palmar piece of the device. Such objects include (but are
not limited to) a toothbrush, eating utensils and writing

Universal Cuff (back of hand)

Universal Cuff #2

device generally needs to be set up for the user, however
after the utensil is in place and the device is strapped
into the individual the device can be used independently.
As illustrated here, a toothbrush can easily be slid into
the device which is strapped over the back of the hand.


The following devices are
products developed for individuals who can not or should
not bend over to dress the lower portion of their body.
This would include individuals with significantly
compromised sitting balance, some of those with back
pain, or any other condition in which excessive bending
is unsafe or aggravates pain.


Sock Aid

sock aid assists the donning of socks or stockings
without requiring either bending over to reach the feet
or lifting the legs to the hands.

While holding
the device between the legs stretch the sock over the
device until the sock meets the base knots of the rope
pulling device. The heel of the sock should slide along
the underside of the device. The "Sock Aid" is
then placed on the ground while holding onto pull ropes
with each hand. The toes are then pointed and placed into
the "mouth" of the device. Traction is then
placed on the ropes while attempting to keep the toes
pointed. The device should slide up the foot and past the
heel while pulling the sock or stocking onto the foot. Note: Most
sock aids work best if powder (Talcum or Baby powder) is
sprinkled on inside of the device to assist with a smooth

Dressing Stick

dressing stick is primarily used in putting on pants. It
is an extended reach of the hand that will hook onto the
pant or underwear (as shown in the leftmost illustration
) . The leg is placed into the leg opening using the hook
end of the stick. Once situated accurately, the pant is
pulled up the leg until it can be easily reached.


Long Handle Reacher

Long Handle Reacher 1

long handle reacher can be used in any instance that an
extended reach is required (as shown in these pictures).
The reacher can easily be used to pick up objects from
the ground as well as reaching for objects above shoulder


Long Handle Shoe Horn

Long Shoe Horn

The long handle shoe horn is
little different from its predecessor the regular shoe
horn, as illustrated. The only difference is that this
device has a longer handle so that one can use it while
maintaining an upright or near upright position when
donning their shoes. 

One helpful accessory recommended for use with
the long handle shoe horn is elastic shoe lace. The shoe
laces are laced once and tied. Because the are elastic,
they expand as the foot enters the shoe. Once the foot is
in the shoe the lace then contracts snugly against the
foot. Elastic shoe laces (in most cases) are a
prerequisite to successful independent donning of lace
shoes when using the long handle shoe horn. This type of
lacing is very helpful for those with poor finger
manipulation who have difficulty tying their shoes.

Elastic Laces

Zipper Pull

zipper pull

The zipper pull is used with
individuals with poor finger grasp and
have great difficulty zipping up clothing. The small hook
at the end
of the zipper pull is easily placed through the zipper
hole; at which
time the zipper can easily be pulled up or down.


Button Hook

The button hook is a firm wire
loop which is fastened to a wooden handle. It is used
for fastening buttons by individuals who have either
poor manipulation ability with both hands, or by
those who have the use of only one hand. In this
illustration, the sequence of device use is
illustrated from left to right. First, the wire
portion is passed through the button hole. The button
is then hooked. The hooked button is then pulled
through the button hole and released.

(Left to Right)
– Universal Cuff, Zipper Pull, Button Hook


Adapted UtensilsAdaptive eating utensils:

Adapted Utensils

  • Built-up handles can accommodate
    deficits in hand strength and dexterity. Weighted
    handles may reduce the effects of tremor while
    eating. A weight worn on the wrist may serve the
    same purpose
  • A stand up mirror can be used for
    visual feedback regarding food pocketing (i.e.-
    food getting stuck in the cheek when there is
    facial weakness) or drooling.
  • An adapted cup prevents spilling
    of liquid.
  • A plate guard fits around any
    plate so that food may be scooped along the side
    for effective placement of food on the utensil
    when using a one-handed technique.



Dycem® is a commercial material
that is flexible and washable. It is placed between the
table surface and the dish to prevent sliding of the
dish. This scoop plate aides in the tidy placement of
food on a utensil when a one-handed technique is used.

Tubigrip® (cut to size and
placed on common toothbrush) or a toothbrush with a
built-up handle compensates for deficits in hand strength
and dexterity.

Rocker Knife

For cutting food using a
one-handed technique, a rocker knife
is moved in a rocking motion – not a "sawing"
motion – break food in to bite-sized pieces.

Plate Guard

Scooping food using a plate
guard is demonstrated here. (A scoop plate
is used the same way.) A weight worn on the wrist may
reduce the effects of tremor while eating.


Adapted Shower
Tub Seat and Hand Brush with Built-up Grip

A tub seat minimizes risk of falls in the tub
when balance is compromised. A hand-held shower allows
control of the shower stream while seated.


Grab bars are
not necessary with use of a tub seat, but if standing in
a tub is appropriate, such a bar will provide steadying
assist. It it imperative for safety that grab bars be
bolted into wall studs/supports.