There are thousands of products and tools that could fall under the category of Assistive Aids. Some as simple as a notepad while others offer the latest high-tech features. Check our page on Equipment for medical equipment items that could also be termed as Assistive Aids. Below are some descriptions of items you may find useful.
Kitchen / Feeding Aids - There are a number of products to help in the kitchen and with feeding. Common items include plates and dishes with taller sides that allow the food to be scooped up easier. Some have non-skid or suction cups, some with dividers, others are made to keep the food warm longer.
Modified cutlery and flatware are also very common. There are many versions available, some with handles with padding, some over-sized, some swivel, and with different angles and supports. There are also a number of versions of cups and glasses available. Not everything has to be complicated as the simplest aid for the person re-learning to drink is a straw.
For cooking, there are a number of useful tools such as products that keep the pots from moving to adapted choppers and knives. Jar openers and reachers may also be helpful. As with any of these Assistive Aids your loved one's specific deficits will dictate which products would be most helpful. Your Occupational Therapist can help advise you.
Memory Aids - A very important category for many brain injured people are memory aids. Again, just as the severity of the deficits can vary widely, so do the solutions. Something as simple as a whiteboard or a daily planner can be very helpful. In fact, for people with more sever problems, less is better. Others may be able to work with more interactive devices such as alarm watches, alarm reminders, and computer devices such as Palm Pilots. Work closely with your therapist for these important tools.
Grooming Aids - There are a number of adapted products to help with grooming. Many are designed to assist the person with limited mobility or hand strength. Many of the items may be similar to your existing items but with modified handles. There are long-handled combs and brushes, sponges and scrubbers to reach your back, and even nail clippers and scissors. There are a number of devices designed to be hands-free such as hair dryers and mirrors.
There are dressing aids to help pull on your socks and aids to replace tying your shoes. There are other aids to help with dressing if you can only use one hand. Some companies even sell modified clothing to help people in wheelchairs to dress easier and be more comfortable.
Writing / Reading Aids - Many of the writing aids are devices to help people grip their pens and pencils. Some are as simple as the rubber grips to more elaborate wrist support devices. The reading aids include devices that hold the books and magnifiers to help with low vision. Our family's favorite reading aid are Books on Tape. We get them from the library and our daughter really enjoys them.
Environmental Controls - This area is where the solutions can really get elaborate when the computer is brought into play. You can set all of the lights, thermostats, and other household items up to turn on and off based on settings stored in the computer. With the right software you can even monitor and adjust the environmental settings via the Internet. Communication devices such as the Dynavox can activate environmental controls as well.
Then of course, there are the more low-tech approaches... Does Clap On, Clap Off come to mind? Seriously though, there are voice activated controls and touch controls. Low vision remote controls may also be helpful and give the injured person more feelings of control.
Recreation - It is very important not to forget to have a little fun. We think it is so important in helping to keep a positive attitude and trying to minimize the depression that is part of the process. Below are ideas we use. Find what works best for you based on age and interests. You may not want to let your loved one know, but, sometimes playing these games is also a tricky way to get more therapy in. For example, we play Connect Four with our daughter while she is in her standing frame to exercise her arm and her fine motor control. The more creative you can be the better. Painting, gardening, washing the dog, anything to change things up and get those neurons firing.
Remember that because brain injuries can cause deficits in so many different areas that you may find good alternatives by searching for assistive aids from different angles. Use resources for the blind or for the elderly to get good ideas. If you can identify a need there is probably a product out there. If not with a little ingenuity you may be able to adapt something yourself.