“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” –Virginia Woolf
Multiple sclerosis can affect many areas of your life, and the disease may change how you do various activities. Choosing what to wear probably isn’t at the forefront of most people’s minds when receiving a diagnosis of MS, but clothing quickly becomes relevant to daily living when people experience certain MS symptoms.
Adaptive clothing can serve as temporary fixes during exacerbations for people who live with relapsing-remitting MS. For people who have a progressive form of MS, clothes adapted for special equipment can help make life a little easier. Here are some MS-friendly clothing suggestions:
If MS affects your balance and coordination, select shoes with significant “tread” on the sole rather than a smooth surface. If you experience numbness on the bottom of your feet, however, you may opt for a thinner sole to better “feel” the ground beneath you.
For people with heat sensitivity, cooling clothing may provide some relief. Cooling clothing contains gel crystals that retain cold temperatures when they are wet; they come in various styles, from bandanas to vests. Scroll down for suggested retailers.
Adding an invisible zipper to the seamline along the sides of pant legs can allow for easier dressing and undressing. Side-zip pants are ideal for people using wheelchairs and scooters, as they eliminate the need to pull pants legs up; instead the pants may be placed around the legs, with a thin zipper closing the pants from calf to waist.
Shirts that can be pulled over or zipped may be better options than shirts with buttons, snaps or ties for people who experience symptoms that affect the use of their fingers, hands or arms.
“MS progression resulted in permanent wheelchair use, and increasing upper-body impairment placed restrictions on my outside activities. This was compounded by a lack of available clothing for style, comfort, fit and freedom of movement. Modern adaptive apparel solved those problems for me; providing real clothing options for people with physical disabilities involves deeper issues of restoring dignity, self-confidence and personal autonomy.”
— JULIE, DIAGNOSED IN 1979
Here are some Canadian online shopping resources to get you started:
http://www.ashleysadaptiveapparel.ca/ (Winnipeg, MB)
http://www.debralynncreations.ca/ (Surrey, BC)
How do you use clothing to make your life easier with MS? Use the comments section to let us know what you think.
All photos sourced from IZ Adaptive.