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Loss of Mobility/ Agility and Activity Limitation

Many people with bleeding disorders suffer from arthritis and advanced joint disease, making it difficult to perform daily activities around the home. Joint damage in the elbow can make it difficult to reach into deep cabinets, remove clothes from the washing machine, or pull things off closet shelves. Knee, ankle, and hip joint pain can make it challenging to climb stairs, step into a bathtub, or lower onto a toilet seat.

Anemia, which can arise from a variety of conditions that may occur in individuals with bleeding disorders, can cause fatigue, weakness, and motor impairment.

If you suffer from loss of agility and mobility, you could be at risk for falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries such as hip fractures, injuries to internal organs, and head trauma. These types of injuries can be especially harmful for people with bleeding disorders.

Many falls can be prevented. Exercise can help strengthen your muscles and improve balance, making falls less likely. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about what exercises are suitable for you. Also, look around your home and remove any hazards that might cause a fall. Additionally, wearing sturdy shoes both inside and outside the house will give you support and help you avoid slipping. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.

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Housing Adaptations

Modifying your house to fit your physical limitations can greatly improve your quality of life. People with bleeding disorders will find that making changes to their living environment as soon as possible will help alleviate pain and make recovery from a bleed or surgery much easier.

Modifying your house to fit your physical limitations does not have to start late in life.

Occupational therapists help people of all ages participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. In other words, your occupational therapist will address your physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and sensory issues as well as other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts to help you participate in everyday activities that positively affect your health, well-being, and quality of life. Occupational therapy services may include a comprehensive evaluation of the home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Your Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) may be able to refer you to an occupational therapist.

Making Your Home User-Friendly

The home has been referred to as one's castle or oasis. Frankly, your home is where your heart is. Just because you have, or need to plan for, physical limitation doesn't mean your home can't still be your very own Shangri-La.

Here are some tips to keep or make your home a utopia:

If You Use a Wheelchair

  • Choose appliances that have controls in the front.
  • Keep clutter, electrical cords, and extra furniture out of pathways.
  • Put a lazy Susan inside shelves and cabinets to easily reach items.
  • Consider a side-by-side refrigerator.
  • Be sure doors and hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair.
  • Look for closet organizers to help you easily reach all belongings.
  • Lower closet rods to a comfortable level.
  • Look for tables and countertops that can be used while sitting in a wheelchair.
  • Replace steps with ramps. Have at least one entry without steps.
  • If possible, adapt the ground floor level of your home for one-level living.
  • Consider installing door peepholes at a lower level.
  • Make sure floors are smooth and carpet has a low pile and a firm pad.
  • Keep microwave ovens no higher than 48 inches above the floor.
  • Consider a roll-in shower with wide, doorless entry; grab bars; nonslip pads; built-in seats; and a hand-held shower unit.
  • Be certain there's enough space to transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet.

If You Have Balance or Coordination Problems

  • Install a bath seat in the tub or shower.
  • Have a transfer bench near the bathtub.
  • Install grab bars near the bath and toilet. Don't rely on towel racks; they are not weight bearing.
  • Keep a phone in the bathroom.
  • Make sure handrails extend beyond the top and bottom of stairs and are on both sides.

If You Have Limited Reach

  • Cabinet shelves should be no more than 10 inches deep.
  • Keep closet rods at a comfortable height and install organizers that store belongings within reach.
  • Clothes washer and dryer should be front loading.
  • Cook tops should have front, easy-to-reach controls.
  • Use a lazy Susan in shelves and cabinets to easily reach items.
  • Install pull-out shelves in kitchen cabinets.
  • Consider a side-by-side refrigerator.
  • Keep the microwave oven no higher than 48 inches above the floor.
  • Consider placing electrical outlets 27 inches above the floor where they are easier to reach.

If You Have Poor Hand and Arm Strength

  • Use an automatic garage door opener
  • Install lever-style handles on doors
  • Install D-shaped handles on cabinets
  • Use smooth counter tops so heavy pans can slide easily across them
  • Look for push-button controls on appliances
  • Install lever faucet handles on sinks

If You Have Trouble Walking and Climbing Stairs

  • Make sure floors are smooth and slip-resistant
  • Do not use area rugs
  • Install a ramp to the front door with handrails on both sides
  • If you have stairs, make them slip-resistant by using nonslip stair treads or tapes
  • Make sure door thresholds are no higher than one-quarter inch

Tips for Preventing Falls

  • Stairs and pathways should be kept free of any items, such as shoes, clothes, papers, or electrical cords that can be tripping hazards
  • Coil electrical cords or tape them next to the wall
  • Do not use area rugs
  • Use lazy Susans in cabinets or keep things within reach so a step stool is not required
  • Install lights in all stairwells and handrails on all staircases
  • Fix loose or uneven steps
  • Use nonslip pads in the shower and bathtub
  • Install grab bars near the bath and toilet. Don't rely on towel racks; they are not weight bearing
  • Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers. Wear sturdy shoes that give adequate support
  • Use night-lights
  • Paint door thresholds a different color to prevent tripping