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Modified household utensils improve autonomy and lives of people with leprosy

Assistive technology – the use of (frequently modified or customized) equipment to improve the functional capabilities of people with special needs – is an important therapeutic tool. A study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases finds that household utensils modified in relatively simple and cheap ways can increase autonomy and self-esteem and positively impact the quality of life of patients with leprosy.

Fatima Maia from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, worked with a group of 15 patients with leprosy who had lost some of their manual dexterity. The researchers started by compiling a list of tools used in daily living routine that could be modified to make them usable or improve their utility for the patients. They also did an evaluation of each patient’s sensory and motor abilities. They then offered to modify any tool from the list (including eating utensils, mugs, toothbrushes, shavers, pliers, and screwdrivers) according to the patients’ suggestions and feedback, and trained the patients in the use of the modified tools selected.

Image of adapted fork and knife
Training of activities of daily living ADL with adapted fork and knife
Image Credit: Maia et al.