Imagine not being able to perform daily activities such as eating with a fork, using a computer, or opening a door knob on your own. These simple activities are often taken for granted, but for individuals with dexterity loss, they can pose a significant challenge. These individuals must struggle to overcome difficulties that for us, come as second nature. One of the major causes of dexterity loss is Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Earlier this month was Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Awareness Day. RA is a chronic autoimmune disorder that is not widely discussed by the lay public, but affects approximately 1.3 million Americans. With this condition, your immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy tissues, including the synovial tissue that lines our joints. Victims experience painful inflammation with joint damage and deformity, often accompanied by a range of other symptoms that can impact their quality of life.
RA is more common in women than men, and typically develops between the ages of 30 and 60. Other risk factors include a family history of the condition, smoking, and obesity. RA can also affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, and heart.
There are many forms of treatment for RA including medications, exercise and diet; it is also easy to rely on friends and family for help. However, technology has been making its way more and more into healthcare in recent years, and treatments for dexterity loss is no different. Assistive technology is defined as an item, piece of equipment, product, or system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities in disabled individuals. A wide range of assistive devices have been developed and become available in recent years as dedicated personnel come to understand how much they can really help. With the aid of assistive technology, individuals with dexterity loss can become more independent and productive.
Mary Pat Radabaugh, an advocate for disability rights, once said,
"For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible."
Assistive devices like pencil grips and utensils with larger handles have been around for many years, but newer technologies such as self-driving cars, MyMove, and Exoskeleton suits are providing additional options for individuals with RA.
Living with dexterity loss is not easy, but it is possible to lead a fulfilling lifestyle with RA. As a society, we must continue to recognize the challenges faced by those with RA and work towards solutions that improve their quality of life. Let's help support those who have lost dexterity and enable them to live life to the fullest!
Image description: Blue purple ribbon on human hand aged wood background for rheumatoid arthritis disease