According to the National MS Society, there are nearly a million people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States. Symptoms vary widely and may include vision changes, loss of strength and balance, reduced stamina, cognitive impairments, and depression. March is MS Awareness Month. If you know someone impacted by MS, don’t forget your Assistive Technology (AT) Act Program for assistance finding tools and strategies for living well.
In 2020, “Anna” contacted the MD Assistive Technology Act Program (MDTAP) looking to find a manual wheelchair that she could better manage. Her MS had progressed and the chair her insurance had provided required more physical strength than she had and was too large and unwieldy for her petite frame. Rather than take up the process of appealing to her insurance for a new chair, Anna reached out to MDTAP’s reuse program. The program located her a gently-used manual wheelchair that is smaller and easy to maneuver. Anna was delighted. Her problem was solved swiftly and her original equipment would not go to waste. She donated her original chair to the program so someone else might benefit!
In 2021, the Arkansas Alternative Financing Program (AFP) financed a modified vehicle for Susan whose existing van was experiencing numerous mechanical failures. Susan has MS, uses a wheelchair, and needs the van to get to work and for all her vital appointments. She had dreaded financing another van, but after hers became a continuous headache, she learned about the AFP through one of the local van vendors. What a relief! She was able to finance a vehicle with all the equipment she needed: a transfer seat, hand gear, a knob-steering wheel, and an easy-lock device. Her AFP loan has a low-interest rate and affordable monthly payments. Since obtaining the new van, Susan says she is no longer concerned about maintaining her employment and is feeling much more confident and independent!
Find the AT reuse and alternative financing programs in your state or territory
Multiple Sclerosis Signs and Symptoms from the National MS Society
Explore AT: Vehicle Modifications from the AT3 Center.