Anyone who has arthritis or difficulties with grasping or pinching due to an injury or limited hand strength may find it hard to operate devices which are controlled by knobs, such as many major home appliances: stoves, washers and dryers, dishwashers. Luckily, there are a variety of tools available to help, available online and listed under the general category of knob turners that provide a longer handle, better grip and less strength to turn or open objects .
Most knob turners feature either a rubber cup or a compressible operating surface that fits over the knob to be turned. Attached to the turning knob operator is a grip of some type; there are several different shapes designed for different types of disabilities. One common type is the T turning handle. As its name suggests, it is a vertical post on the back of the operating surface with a crosspiece that may be horizontal or slightly angled. Other types of grips include ball grips and pistol grips. Some models have an elongated handle to allow the user to reach knobs at the back of the appliance.
The different types of operating surfaces have different applications. Compressible surfaces work best on knobs which have a narrow, flat protrusion that requires pinching to operate. The compressible surface molds itself to the protrusion to grip it for turning. This type of knob turner also works on water faucet knobs that are X-shaped. Rubber-cup surfaces work best on round knobs. Typically they have a slightly tacky surface that grips the knob to turn it.
Knob turners are intended for individuals to own and carry with them to use whenever needed. The 1994 Americans with Disabilities Act does require public accommodations to provide grip assistance, but usually these take the form of permanently-installed lever-type or hands-free doorknobs or faucet handles, not portable individual devices. Most knob turners require very little if any maintenance. Try washing them occasionally with dish detergent to keep it clean and maintain the grip.
Prices of knob turners vary from less than $10 to around $40, depending on the design, materials, and construction. Knob turners are an inexpensive way to make many daily tasks easier for persons with limited hand function.