When my husband was diagnosed with MSA eight years ago at age 52, we didn’t know what we didn’t know about equipment that makes the MSA journey easier. Since then, we have rented and purchased equipment that has been essential for helping improve my husband’s quality of life and my experience as a caregiver.
Two common challenges we have utilized equipment for are pressure sores and safe transfers.
Pressure sores are common in the advanced stages of MSA because an individual with MSA spends their day either in a wheelchair or bed and has difficulty repositioning. Therefore, it is essential to alleviate points of continuous friction to prevent pressure sores and inflammation and to heal them. Otherwise, there is the risk of infection, which creates other problems.
Being able to do safe transfers becomes more challenging as MSA progresses. Unfortunately, the only equipment Medicare covers for safe transfers is a Hoyer lift, which has its purpose but may not be the best solution for individuals who can bear weight and do not have severe hypotension upon standing.
For these individuals, equipment that enables them to safely transfer while not being completely immobilized is a better solution for their health and well-being according to medical professionals. Currently, we use a sit-to-stand lift. It’s great for my husband, and it’s easy to use for caregivers. A word of caution: Not all sit-to-stand lifts raise an individual to a standing position and/or fit through narrow bathroom doors. Rest assured; the two lifts included in the table below do both.
The table below includes challenges my husband has confronted and the equipment that we personally have found helpful in addressing each challenge. I encourage you to review the table from the vantage point of the present and the future. There may be equipment that can help you with a challenge you are facing now or may face in the future. I have identified the equipment covered by Medicare. To get this equipment, follow your health plan’s instructions. For non-Medicare covered equipment, shop around. If you don’t have Medicare, check your health plan’s Evidence of Coverage for durable medical equipment (DME) covered by the plan.
Please note that each example link is just for reference and/or personal preference of the author and is not a sponsored link. There are many different options available out there that may be preferred by patients for any reason.
MSA Challenges & Equipment Solutions
|Bed||*Low air loss mattress||DermaFloat® APL|
|Heels while in bed||*Prevalon heel protector boot||Prevalon Heel Protector|
|Wheelchair||*ROHO cushion||ROHO Cushions|
|Elbows while in bed||Soft pillow|
|Positioning in a vehicle||Swivel seat||HealthSmart 360 Degree Swivel Seat Cushion|
|Safe assisted manual transfers||Gait belt||Elite Medical Instruments GAIT-M-Black Gait Transfer Belt|
|Safe assisted transfers for individuals who can bear weight||Sit-to-stand lift||Protekt® 500 Stand|
|Safe standing transfers||Transfer pole||Security Pole|
|Showering in a bathtub||Swivel tub transfer seat||Carousel Sliding Transfer Bench with Swivel Seat|
|Blood pressure regulation |
Swollen feet & legs
|*Hospital bed||Delta® Ultra- Light 1000, Semi-Electric Bed|
|Breath support |
|Incentive Spirometer |
|How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer|
|Door clearance for wheelchair and/or lift||Offset hinges||Generic 3.5 inch Swing Clear Offset Door Hinge|
|Lung health|| |
Aerobika Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure Therapy System
|The AEROBIKA® OPEP Advantage|
|Posture in a wheelchair||*ROHO cushion||ROHO Cushions|
|Power failure||Battery back up||APC UPS 1500VA Battery Backup Surge Protector|
|Toilet hygiene||Bidet||Bio Bidet USPA 6800U Bidet Seat|
|Walking independently safely||*U-step walker||U-STEP Neuro|
*Covered by Medicare. See Medicare.gov for a full list of Durable Medical Equipment (DME) coverage: https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/durable-medical-equipment-dme-coverage