Wearing a TLSO brace severely limits any bending or twisting. That is, after all, the point of the brace: to restrict your back movement. Whatever the reason is for your wearing the brace, the effect is the same: you will be unable to maneuver your body like you did without the brace. Adjusting to the restrictions can take time; it did for me, and I’m still not enthusiastic about this necessary addition to my wardrobe. Before you can absorb just how much this brace affects your activities–and it does affect everything you do–you never really think about one of the most frequent and obvious maneuvers you perform in the course of your day. Using the bathroom.
Some people consider it an indelicate subject and don’t really want to talk about it. Some others think you’ll just figure out how to deal with this unique challenge. When I was leaving rehab for home in February, I tried to look up information online on how to deal with personal hygiene while wearing a TLSO brace and could find nothing. The rehab facility and occupational health staff provided me with photocopied pages from a catalog of supplies, but I didn’t like the choices and no one could seem to recommend anything in particular.
Finally, after much online searching and then talking with a friend who’s an occupational therapist and a girlfriend who’d been through surgery that limited her personal mobility, I ended up adapting nothing more than a bathroom cleaning tool for personal use. Yes, that was the best suggestion: the Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush toilet wand. Don’t laugh. I bought several: one for home, one for carrying with me and one to keep in the car. With a strong wand, curved head, slide-button release and shape that allows wrapping of tissue around the curved head for acceptable sanitary use, this was, in my opinion, the best choice. To use it: start winding tissue around the wand until the end of the tissue extends past the wand head. Grab the excess tissue and crumple it into the clasp end and slide the button to close the clasp. It’s easy to get the hang of after a few times.
As a matter of reference I am including links to the Bottom Buddy (gotta love that name) and the other personal hygiene tools as well. Also worth mentioning is the bidet, which is gaining popularity in the US but is more widely available in Europe and Asia; if you check out eBay, however, you can find bidet converter kits for the toilet that are available with or without heating devices.
bidet converters–check eBay for a variety of sellers
Scrubbing Bubbles, Fresh Brush, starter kit–find it at a local grocery, Walmart or Target
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