Bathing Aids and Tools for Myasthenia Gravis
When we are struggling with myasthenia gravis (MG) symptoms, bathing can be difficult. If you tire easily, try resting before bathing. I almost always bathe right after rising in the morning. That way, I’m fully rested, I am usually much stronger, and I generally have much less pain.
I allow myself a lot of time to bathe. I probably take about twice the time I used to take, but this way I do not have to rush through it. Since those with MG can be very sensitive to heat, cold, or both, adjust your water temperature accordingly.
Room temperature can be a major factor, as well. If you are cold sensitive like I am, you may prefer a warm room. We use a fan to sleep, but when I bathe the fan is turned off. Depending on the season or room temperature, I may even turn on a space heater.
In this article, I’d like to discuss bath aids and some tools that may be helpful for people living with MG. I am familiar with these aids through my experiences as a nurse and by using some of them personally. They can be purchased locally or in a medical supply store.
A bath lift is an assistive device that allows you to sit on it, then you are gently lowered into the tub. Even if you can get into the tub on your own, you may not be able to get out, so this device will lift you back up when you are ready. There are several different designs.
These are generally inflatable and can be an alternative to a bath lift or chair if the tub isn’t large enough to handle a seat or if it's the wrong shape.
For when you cannot bath
There are also products available for when you can’t shower or bathe. For example, no-rinse bath wipes or cloths are thick, disposable washcloths, containing a cleansing solution. Some may contain a light scent or fragrance free for sensitive skin. There is no need to rinse.
Rinse-free shampoo caps are similar to a cloth-lined shower cap. They already have shampoo, conditioner, and de-tangler in them. Just heat in the microwave as directed. I’ve used these myself and they actually work very well.
Other helpful products
Shampoo trays or capes work well if you are unable to get out of bed or confined to a wheelchair. Some of these remind me of a child’s wading pool that you air up, but others are rigid. I believe most include the tubing needed but hand pumps are sold separately.
Several other aids to help in the tub or shower are:
- Long handled sponge for back and legs - the handles may have different curves
- Bath mitt - for times when you can’t hold on to a cloth
- Footbath basin and scrubbers - long handled or those with suction cups are great
- Back scratcher and lotion applicator - both come with long handles
- Extension handle razor - for legs for those with difficulty reaching
- Bath pillow - Great if you want to just relax in the tub
- Extra long tub or shower non-slip mat - helpful to prevent falls
It can be a big help when you have a shower wand rather than a stationary shower head. There are many different styles and sizes to choose from.
There are many other products available. You can even find some at most local stores that carry bath products and equipment or at a medical supply store. They are also available online.
Have you made any MG-friendly adaptations to your home?