The versatility of reachers brings independence to many people in numerous situations. Because reachers extend the arm, they bring everything within easy reach, making them essential aids for persons with lower back problems or difficulty bending. Reachers eliminate the danger of balancing precariously on a stool to reach something on a high shelf. Back injuries and falls are often prevented because you don’t need to bend or stretch to use a reacher. Persons in wheelchairs benefit from reachers, as do persons with arthritis, restricted arm movement or limited reach.
People of all abilities find many uses for reachers, and soon consider them indispensable. They are especially convenient in the kitchen, for pushing or pulling hot oven racks, opening cabinets or drawers, and taking cans off high shelves. You can even use a reacher to hold a sponge to “mop” spills on the floor. Reachers are equally useful in the bedroom for dressing. Many reachers help in pulling on or pushing off clothing or shoes, reaching for items in a closet and opening and closing zippers. After acquiring a reacher, people soon discover that its uses are practially limitless!
Reachers come in a variety of styles, but the basic design remains the same- a stick with a grasping device on the end. The grasping device may be a claw or an adhesive or magnetic disc. In a claw design, pinchers open and close tightly to grab and hold objects. The pinchers may have a non-slip rubber coating or cups to provide a steadier, stronger hold when picking up small or irregularly shaped items. Triggers are necessary to activate the reacher claws. The trigger is usually attached to wires running along the shaft of the reacher. The wires pull open or shut the claws on the end of the reacher. In most reachers, you must keep light pressure on the trigger to continue gripping. However, because it is difficult for many people to keep squeezing the trigger while holding an object, some reachers are self-closing, or have a locking mechanism to hold the jaws closed. Persons with very limited hand strength or dexterity might prefer an automatic trigger, which activates the jaws at the touch of a button. Some reachers operate by wrist action, so no finger movement is necessary.
Magnets provide additional ease for picking up small objects, such as pins and paper clips. Adhesive discs generally pick up items that are difficult to grasp with pinchers, like paper. Some reachers have a hook, useful for opening drawers, pushing buttons, or dressing.
Reachers come with a variety of optional features and accessories. Some reachers fold or retract into a smaller size for easy storage or hanging from a wheelchair. A few are portable enough to carry in a purse or pocket. Straps, clips, and reacher holders are useful for fastening reachers to wheelchairs, canes or chairs. Some reachers come with an attached hook for hanging. The hook also acts as a finger support for better precision in reaching.
Arm support improves a person’s grip on the reacher handle and relieves wrist strain. By stabilizing the arm or wrist, less arm strength is required for heavy objects.
When selecting a reacher for your personal use, choose one that is safe, comfortable, and convenient for you. An occupational therapist can help you decide what kind of reacher is best for your needs.
The following companies carry a wide variety of reachers. Write or call for a free catalog:
3957 Mayfield Road
Cleveland, OH 44121
6 Industrial Road
Pequannock, NJ 07440
Fred Sammons Inc.
Brookfield, IL 60513-0032
150 N. MacQuesten Pkwy, Ste 92049
Mt. Vernon, NY 10550
Dept. 2236, P.O. Box 515
Colchester, CT 06415-0515
42 Executive Blvd., P.O. Box 3209
Farmingdale, NY 11735