Ease of Use: IMAK SmartGlove

The Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation recognizes products proven to make life easier for people who have arthritis and other physical limitations. These products are independently tested by experts and evaluated by people with arthritis. I have been asked to review a number of Ease-of-Use products during May, Arthritis Awareness Month in the US. My mother, who has osteoarthritis in her hands, is helping by testing some of these products, as well. 

The SmartGlove by IMAK is designed to offer "carpal tunnel support," as well as easing hand fatigue, tendinitis and arthritis. According to the box, it is designed by an orthopedic surgeon. The glove comes oriented to fit your right hand, but can be turned inside out to be used for the left hand. There is a built-in flexible support splint running along the top of the glove from knuckles to wrist and something called "massaging ErgoBeads" located where your carpal tunnel area is. ErgoBeads are “exceptionally smooth plastic beads … that … creates a massaging effect to help increase blood circulation, promoting healthy muscle tissue." You can freeze the glove, cooling down the beads which is designed to provide "maximum relief" (I assume relief of pain).

To me, this seems like a fabulous idea. The other reviewers in the Ease of Use program have all tried it and it's come back with excellent reviews. I’ve been following them on Twitter where Felicia Fibro mentions the SmartGlove as providing relief for aching wrists when typing, although it took her a little while to get used to working while wearing the glove. @Cezmaye used it "to get through finals - really reduce swelling."

Again, I relied on my mother for the product testing. My wrists fused a long time ago and therefore haven't given me much trouble - it's one of those moments where severe deformity (in this case immobility) is working for me! Also, thanks to Humira, I don't usually have any swelling. My mother, on the other hand, has osteoarthritis in her hands and have had carpal tunnel problems (including surgery), so she was a perfect candidate.

Before I passed the glove on to my mother, I tried it on myself. Despite getting a medium (where I would need a size small), I couldn't put it on myself. It's tight to put on, which makes sense because it's supposed to provide support and a bit of compression. However, I have very little strength in my hands and arms and couldn't pull it on. Of course, I can't put on a pair of knitted store-bought gloves if the cuff is knit tightly, either, which should tell you something about how little strength I have.


My mother also had a bit of difficulty pulling it on, but did manage. Depending on how much pain you have in your fingers, this might be a bit of a barrier to using the glove. Unfortunately, the rest of her review was fairly negative. She felt it was uncomfortable, made it difficult to type and impossible to use a mouse. She kept it on for an hour and found that it was so tight around her arm that her hand ended up falling asleep! As well, the narrow piece of fabric between her thumb and the rest of the hand bothered her a lot. However, we have a theory that her fibromyalgia was to blame. It makes her very sensitive to pressure and it quickly moves from a sense of pressure into a perception of pain when things are too tight.

I think this is one of those cars that can work great for some and not so great for others. Several other reviewers had a very positive reaction, so I think it's worth looking into. If you have problems with wrist pain or carpal tunnel issues, give it a try. It might do the trick for you.

This was my last product review for Ease of Use program (at least for this go around). I’d like to thank The Address Foundation for getting me this opportunity to try out some pretty nifty products. Both I and my co-reviewer had a lot of fun. 

Other bloggers involved in reviewing Ease-of-Use products are Felicia Fibro, Peachy Pains and Dog in the Dorm: Life with Holden.


Diana Troldahl said…
Oohhh the fibro connection! That explains why non of the carpal support gloves work for me, I always end up worse than when I put it on (pain wise). I have a few tips for your mom, though. If you hold the suffering hand and gently squeeze the sides toward one another the fingers on the other hand along the side below your pinky and your thumb of the other hand on the suffering hand's send-from-the tip thumb joint and hold it (gently, mind) it will provide almost immediate relief. I had a friend who resorted to using duct tape to hold her hand in that configuration during an intense week of test taking. It works for me to hold the worst at bay when I am knitting or typing a bit too much. I also (gently) drop my pinky side of my hand down onto the arm f my chair several times and it backs off the numbness. I just let gravity plummet the hand down, not adding any force of my own.
Colleen said…
I learned that trying to do anything with a splint on meant I pushed against the brace, harder, and that *aggravated* my carpal tunnel (my new PT said that that is correct)! So I ended up sleeping in the braces, too keep my hands straight, and not wearing them during the day, but got acupuncture and improved my posture, and stretched. That did more good...for everything that hurt!
Felicia Fibro said…
I actually have a different glove that is lighter-weight. I have the IMAK Arthritis Gloves. I'm quite interested in these gloves though, for the days when my wrists are hurting more.