Written by Paul Shay
I am one of the lucky, late-onset FSHers: diagnosed at age 57, now 71. As my progression has been relatively slow over those 14 years, I have incorporated a number of adaptive devices and techniques that I can share with you. Since my wife and I are still working, we have been fortunate enough to have the resources to try out a number of products.
As I am mostly affected in my shoulders, biceps, and quads, my issues revolve primarily around climbing stairs, reaching high and low, and getting up from a seated position.
For those challenges, here are a number of things and tricks I’ve found useful:
Pneumatic Clam-Shell Seat Lift. This device is adjustable for its user’s weight and has modest padding. It allows me to sit at my desk for hours at a time, and gives a gentle boost when getting out of the chair.
Toilevator. This is a sturdy plastic platform onto which your toilet mounts. It comes with all necessary mounting hardware and seals, raising toilet seating height an additional four inches.
Half-Steps. We have a garage with one step up to the porch, and inside, a single step from the entry area to the main level of the house. When these became an issue, I tried plastic half-steps purchased online. They proved the concept and did help, but were fairly expensive and yet did not last long. Our son then built a couple of rectangular boxed platforms of the same height using quality hardwood. After staining them, he added 3M non-skid strips for traction.
For travel, we bought a 12-inch square stepstool and cut the legs off to bring the height down to that of our household half-steps. It fits easily in a suitcase or carry-on, and takes up minimal space.
Otherwise, one of my early purchases was a cane with a small half-step attached to the base. In conjunction with my normal cane, most steps and stairs are now doable thanks to this device.