Dec 9, 2022 An Occupational Therapist’s Spotlight on Adaptive Equipment

By: Dori Cohen, MS, OTR/L, MSCS, CSRS, Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center

During the rehabilitation process, occupational therapists work with patients to improve quality of life and maximize their functional independence in their daily routines.

Depending on the setting and the population, interventions can include a restorative approach such as strengthening, coordination retraining, visual retraining – but interventions can also include compensatory approaches, including education and training on the use of adaptive equipment.

Below are some examples of adaptive equipment (AE) that are available. This list is by no means comprehensive, but sheds light on some examples of AE that exist on the market.

Adaptive Equipment for Dressing:

  • Magnetic Shirts: shirts that appear to have buttons but instead use magnetic fasteners. This item may be useful for individuals with issues with fine motor coordination, high levels of fatigue, and/or visual deficits. Example: MagnaReady Shirts
  • Elastic Shoelaces: shoelaces that replace standard laces and are kept tied. The elastic nature enables patient to slip on shoes without having to tie/untie. This item may be useful for individuals with decreased range of motion, coordination deficits, and visual deficits.
  • Zipper Pull: device that attaches to the hole of a zipper that enables one to manipulate zipper fastener with a larger grip. This can be useful for somebody with decreased coordination, hand strength, visual skills.

Adaptive Equipment for Dining:

  • Rocker Knife: knife that is intended to cut with a rocking motion instead of a slicing motion. This device may be useful for an individual with decreased functional use of one arm, weakness, and visual deficits.
  • Scoop Dish: specialized dish that has curvature to facilitate scooping of food so that it doesn’t drop off plate. This item may be useful for somebody who is primarily using one hand during dining and/or somebody with a tremor, decreased coordination, and visual deficits.
  • Spoons with leveling/stabilizing hardware: utensil that dampens the severity of impact of a tremor. This device helps reduce likelihood of spilling food during self-feeding. Example: Liftware Utensils

DIY Adaptive Equipment:

  • Sugru/moldable plastic: Sometimes the “perfect” piece of equipment doesn’t exist and needs to be fabricated. Moldable plastic can be utilized to create items such as a phone holder, a pen grip and so much more!
  • Bump Dots: Dots can be added to items such as cell phones, microwaves, remote controls to increase input. This may be useful for somebody with visual deficits, decreased coordination and/or tremors.


Dori Cohen, MS, OTR/L, MSCS, CSRS, is an occupational therapist at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston. She works with patients with neurological conditions, with a specialty in working with individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, Strokes and Parkinson’s disease. Dori is a certified Multiple Sclerosis Specialist (MSCS), Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist (CSRS) and has LSVT Big Certification. Dori completed her BA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MS in occupational therapy at New York University. When not in the clinic, Dori enjoys spending time with her two boys (ages 1 and 3), exploring NYC, and baking.

The Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center Rehabilitation centers are open and ready to help you achieve your goals. With four locations in West Orange, Millburn and Livingston, the experienced and compassionate staff at Cooperman Barnabas Rehabilitation offers adults and children the specialized care they need to resume an active life after surgery, injury or illness. They are committed to providing patients with the most advanced services in a safe, caring and soothing environment. For high-risk patients who are unable to visit in person, telehealth is an option. Patients do not need a prescription for physical therapy services.