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  • Chris Moore, OTR

What is foam tubing and how might it help?

We hold and use many tools and handles throughout our daily routines. Some of which are small and hard to hold. Others vibrate and shake up our muscles and nerves. There are a variety of shapes and sizes. Our fingers and thumbs become weak and sometimes painful from the firm gripping that is required to use these items. If our hands develop arthritis, this adds another dimension to the task.

By adding foam tubing to any tool or handle, the gripping surface becomes softer and larger which decreases pressure on the joints of the hand and acts as a shock absorber for vibration.

Some examples of adding tubing are knives, forks, spoons, cooking utensils, hiking/ski poles, bicycle/motor cycle handles, lawn mowers, vacuums, mops, brooms and pens/pencils. There are also padded steering wheel covers for vehicles. The pipe insulation can be added to walker handles to decrease the pressure on arms and hands during ambulation.

There are a variety of tubing options, including pipe insulation (picture on the left) for larger handles and foam tubing (picture in the middle) for smaller handles. First measure the diameter of the handle you want to enlarge, then measure the tube that best fits. The tubes can be cut to size and if you need to secure it on to the handle, the ideal tape is vet wrap (picture on the right) which can be purchases at any farm/ranch supply as it is used for horses and small animals. This is a great item to have on hand. It sticks to itself, no glue and can reused or replaced with a new strip.

The use of tubes and vet wrap are endless. It is an inexpensive way to make your daily activities less painful and improve your independence and quality of life. if you need more ideas, please contact your physician and ask for an OT referral.

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