Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a genetic condition characterized by the progressive loss of peripheral nerves (those outside the brain and spinal cord).

Peripheral nerves carry sensory information such as pain, pressure, and temperature from the rest of the body to the brain. They also carry nerve signals from the brain to the muscles to control movement.

Without consistent nerve conduction, muscles can weaken or atrophy; many CMT patients have problems with muscles weakness, particularly in their arms and legs, and may also have some loss of sensation. The combination of these problems can make daily tasks difficult to fulfill.

There are many aids and adaptations that can assist CMT patients and improve their quality of life. An occupational therapist can help patients identify and learn how to use them.

Aids and adaptations for personal care

Daily personal care tasks like brushing hair or teeth, dressing, and tying shoes can become very difficult for CMT patients. Some devices that may be useful to make these tasks easier include:

  • Zipper and button pullers, which look like a hook with a handle, can help with buttoning or zipping shirts or pants;
  • Sock and stocking aids can help with socks and stockings;
  • Long-handled shoe horns can help with shoes;
  • Adaptive handles for hairbrushes or toothbrushes, which are essentially a large foam handle. Some of these have velcro straps to make them easier to hold during use.

Aids and adaptations for school

Many school-age CMT patients have difficulty holding a pencil and may have messy or slopping handwriting. Large pencil grips can make writing easier. Speech-to-text software such as DragonSpeak can also be useful in completing assignments.

Aids for household tasks

Everyday household tasks can also be a challenge for CMT patients, but there are a number of aids and adaptations that can make things easier. These include:

  • Reachers/grabbers that are essentially long-handled poles with a claw or magnet at the end to help grab items out of reach;
  • Lever door or faucet handles that can replace round doorknobs and faucet handles and are easier to turn;
  • Electric or battery appliances such as can openers and salt and pepper grinders;
  • Adaptive dishes such as two-handled mugs and utensils with foam grips that make eating and drinking easier.

Aids and adaptations for mobility

Moving around can become difficult for patients with CMT and cause patients to feel isolated. A patient’s care team, their physician, or physical therapist may suggest they use orthotics or a mobility aids such as:

  • Bracing/orthotics
  • Canes
  • Walking poles
  • Walkers
  • Wheelchairs and mobility scooters

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Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.