Before we get started into the written description of it all, take a look at the following links to popular reachers available online for a proper visual introduction:
- A LIGHTWEIGHT EASY ON THE HAND REACHER TOOL with an ergonomic trigger handle, made of durable plastic
- CONVENIENT MAGNETIC PICK UP TOOL adds functionality to pick up light metal objects that have fallen in tight to reach places or are high above
- WIDE REACHER GRABBER with a 2 and 1/2 inch jaw opening with interlocking tips for a secure grip. Plus it's easy to pull closed, even for people with low hand strength
- EXTEND YOUR REACH up to 36 inches and secure the items you grab with extra grip rubber tips
- WARRANTY AND GUARANTEE: Amazon Exclusive Limited warranty may apply. Please see product for additional details. NOTE: Note: we can only guarantee the quality of this product when sold through Amazon.com or Brazos Walking Sticks
- 36-inch Nifty Nabber reaches items low and high without the need to bend down or climb a stool or ladder
- Lightweight aluminum pole features rubber-tipped grippers to prevent damage
- Built-in magnet picks up metal objects
- Ergonomic grip makes it easy to use
- Perfect for yard clean up and helping the elderly
So a reacher…What is it?
A reacher, often referred to as a grabber or a grabber claw, is turning out to be one of the most popular pieces of adaptive equipment on the market. The term “adaptive equipment” or AE is any type of ergonomic device designed to assist someone in adapting to a change in their lifestyle. Sudden changes frequently include post-surgery conditions or an onset of acute/chronic diseases and disorders that impair someone’s qualify of life and ability to carry out their daily living tasks.
A reacher comes in many forms, but all of them include and extension bar with a pulley trigger on one end and a grabbing claw on the other. Durable reachers are made from a variety of metals and the claws and triggers consist of threads/bands and plastics. Reachers live up to their namesake, being primarily used to reach for items that are inconveniently out of reach by simple extension of an individual’s upper body.
What kind of medical conditions are reachers appropriate for?
The beauty about reachers is that users do not necessarily need to have a medical condition in order to use one. A common reason for utilizing reacher is for lower back pain, diagnosed and undiagnosed. Simply bending over to pick up items from the floor can wreak havoc on an individual’s spine and hamstrings due to age, lack of exercise, and medical conditions such as herniated discs, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
Common medical scenarios in which a reacher may be used includes (but is not limited to):
- Orthopedic conditions: back surgery, shoulder surgery, neck surgery, etc.
- Progressive disorders: ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.
- Traumatic disorders: Fractures, stroke, traumatic brain injury, paralysis of the lower limbs, etc.
Limitations of such conditions would equate to scenarios like the following, which would justify the need for a reacher:
- Inability to stand up, balance oneself, and then reach for an item overhead or too far distant from the arm.
- Inability to reach for an item on the floor from sitting or standing
What reacher is right for me?
When selecting a reacher, you need to look at three items regarding yourself: 1. What your current medical conditions are and if you have any precautions against certain movements from your doctor, 2. What movements currently cause you pain and what movements do not, and 3.) what you plan on using the reacher for. The following scenario reflects common examples about what individuals should consider when thinking about purchasing a reacher:
George is a 63 year old male who has recently returned home after enduring a 1-week hospital stay recovering from heart surgery. He had a heart attack while at home, which resulted in a ground-level fall. He sustained a mild concussion and stopped breathing for several minutes. After the EMTs revived him, the doctors concluded that he additionally suffered an anoxic brain injury which caused temporary paralysis of his left hand (fortunately, he is right-handed) and his left foot. The doctors sent him home with precautions, prohibiting from lifting anything over 5 lbs and participating in any overhead reaching activities. He was also allowed to go home if family members agreed to assist him in order to prevent him from falling again until he regains movement.
What we can gather from the case study is that if George decides that he needs a reacher, he should be able to use it with his right hand. A reacher may also be perfect for his situation since he might be sitting more frequently until movement comes back in his left foot. Safety concerns that George and his family members should watch for is if he attempts to reach for any items over 5 lbs (which can actually break most reachers anyway) and if he attempts to reach for any items overhead (such as out of overhead cupboards).
Reachers vary, but very little as far as features go. For example, an elderly woman with arthritic hands may select a Duro-med reacher instead of a Medline Platinum reacher. The Medline version requires a stronger, full-hand grip strength which can be rough on her joints. Length of the extension depends on the height of the user as well as what they intend to use the reacher for. If the reacher is to be used to retrieve heavier items (clothing instead of paper), shorter extensions provide more torque and will less likely break.
Is the reacher eliminating my reasons for staying in shape?
This really depends on what you plan on using the reacher for. If you are, overall, a healthy individual with minor back pain then a reacher may very well be inhibiting your ability to use muscles you SHOULD be using. If bending or squatting down to retrieve items from the floor is causing you unnecessary pain, then a reacher would be a good investment. If you consult with any exercise specialist, the majority will tell you to listen to your body and to stop any type of movements that cause pain beyond muscles soreness. The same goes for daily movements in order to complete necessary tasks (i.e. toileting, dressing, showering, driving, cooking, walking, etc.). The reacher should enhance your independence by increasing your range to reach for items while eliminating or lessening pain.
What am I looking at as far as cost?
Reachers are one of the most inexpensive pieces of adaptive equipment on the market today. Prices online range from $7.00 to $40.00 depending on what company you purchase the reacher from and what additional features come with it (honestly, there aren’t many. Most reachers are exactly the same). Reacher purchases from medical equipment companies will always be more expensive than ones at department stores and major online stores.