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By Michelle

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

Challenge Equipment Example
Pressure sores
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
Transfers
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

Mini Compact Sit-to-Stand Lift

Safe standing transfers Transfer pole Security Pole
Showering in a bathtub Swivel tub transfer seat Carousel Sliding Transfer Bench with Swivel Seat
Other
Blood pressure regulation

Swallowing

Swollen feet & legs

*Hospital bed Delta® Ultra- Light 1000, Semi-Electric Bed
Breath support

Lung infections

Incentive Spirometer

How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer

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
Stridor *CPAP CPAP Machine
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