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Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

What is DME?

Durable Medical Equipment, or DME, is a term used to describe medical equipment that is available for home use during injury or illness. DME can be used in a variety of situations, but most commonly, DME is used to improve a patient’s mobility, comfort, and/or quality of life.



Who uses DME?


  • Persons who are injured or have recently undergone surgery

Athletes and non-athletes can endure an injury or accident resulting in a sprain or broken bone. Other times, a patient requires the replacement of a hip or knee in order to relieve pain and improve mobility. DME such as braces, crutches, canes, walkers, or wheelchairs can be used in these instances to help healing patients get around without putting weight on their injury.

  • Disabled or bedridden patients

Being confined to a bed brings additional challenges for both patients and caregivers. DME can be used in such instances to provide a more comfortable way to perform activities of daily living. DME used in such instances includes equipment for bathing (sponges with extendable arms, inflatable hair-washing basins, etc.), urinating or defecating (urinals, bed pans, etc.), and incontinence supplies (waterproof bed coverings and disposable undergarments).

  • Others

Sometimes patients have special conditions that do not necessarily leave them disabled or immobile, but require them to use specialized types of DME. Such patients include:

  • Patients with diabetes – may require the use of blood glucose monitors
  • Patients with high blood pressure – may require frequent monitoring of blood pressure
  • Patients with breathing difficulties – may require the use of a nebulizer
  • Patients with hemorrhoids – may require specialized cushions in order to sit comfortably

What are some examples of DME?


  • Crutches
    • Crutches are used to provide additional stability when a patient has undergone an injury or recent surgery and needs to keep pressure off of a leg, knee, hip, or ankle.
    • Crutches are often made of either wood or metal and are adjustable to a person’s height. Both pediatric and adult crutches are available.
    • The proper way to size crutches is by making sure that the patient’s arm is bent at a slight angle while grasping the handles, while at the same time not putting too much pressure under their arms with the top of the crutch.


  • Canes
    • Canes are used when a  patient needs to put limited pressure on one side of their body, or when they need additional stability to prevent falls when a hip or knee has a tendency to “give out” on them.
    • Canes come with a variety of handles:
      • Shepherd’s Crook
      • “Derby” or “Pistol Grip”– more comfortable than a Shepherd’s Crook handle
      • Contour – largely considered to be the most comfortable, but is shaped in a way which makes it only usable on one side of the body
      • Canes also have different types of bases:
        • Single tip
        • Four-pronged base – come in both small and large bases to provide desired stability
        • The proper way to size a cane is to have the arm bent at a slight angle while grasping the handle of the cane. If the arm is not bent, this puts too much pressure on the elbow and shoulder. The appropriate amount of “bend” in the arm is usually provided by placing the top of the cane handle about an inch or two above the wrist.


  • Walkers
    • Walkers also come in several varieties to help suit the needs of each patient.
      • Some walkers are provided with wheels so that the patient does not have to lift the walker to move forward.
      • Other walkers may come with chairs (to provide a place for the patient to sit when they get exhausted) or with baskets (so that the patient does not have to juggle their belongings while moving).
      • Walkers are sized similarly to canes, in that each arm should be slightly bent while grasping the handle. An additional precaution to take, however, is that the walker must be level, meaning that all legs of the walker should be adjusted to the same height.


  • Wheelchairs and Transport Chairs
    • Wheelchairs are often used by patients who are capable of using upper body strength to move themselves.
      • Large wheels provide a place for the patient to grip and propel themselves forward.
      • Handles on the back of the chairs provide a place for caregivers to grasp the chair when moving it forward (or backwards over curbs or steps)
      • Transport chairs are used by caregivers to move a patient who does not have upper body strength, or who should not attempt to move on their own.
        • Unlike wheelchairs, these chairs do not have large wheels, preventing the patient from moving on their own.
        • These are typically seen in nursing homes or hospitals, but can be used in the home.
        • Most wheelchairs and transport chairs, as well as certain walkers, have a breaking mechanism to provide stability when sitting down into or standing up from the chair.


  • Urinals, Bedpans, and Catheters
    • Urinals are used for patients who have difficulty making it to the bathroom, or who are confined to a bed or are unable to walk.
      • Urinals are designed only for urine, and should not be defecated into.
      • Urinals come in two different designs in order to suit the different anatomies between male and female patients.
      • Bedpans are also used to hold urine, but can also be used when the patient needs to defecate or vomit.
      • Occasionally, patients need to measure the amount of urine that they are producing, so it is common to see measurement markings on certain types of urinals.
      • Specialized, water-proof bed coverings (another type of DME) are used to protect bedding against spills that may occur in situations where a urinal or bedpan is being used, or in patients who are incontinent (meaning they cannot control their bladder). Such coverings may be required in addition to disposable undergarments for added protection.
      • Catheters are a type of DME that is inserted directly into the bladder through the urethra, thereby facilitating the elimination of urine in those who have difficulty emptying their bladder. 
  • Bath Chairs, Transfer Benches and Bath Railings
    • Bath chairs are useful for patients who cannot stand in the shower, or who are at risk for falling or slipping when they are not seated.
    • Transfer benches are a specialized type of bath chair. These chairs are somewhat safer as they sit both inside and outside of the tub. This allows the patient to scoot across the chair when getting in and out of the bathtub, rather than having to step in and out.
    • Bath railings provide for additional stability when both entering and exiting the bath or shower, and most come with grips as an extra security feature to prevent slipping.


  • Sitz baths
    • Sitz baths are commonly used for relief of pain in a variety of medical conditions, including: hemorrhoids, anal fissures, episiotomies, and more.
    • In addition to providing pain relief, they can also be used to clean the area submerged in the water.
    • Either cold or hot water can be used, depending on the condition being treated; medicines or other ingredients may be added to the bath to provide additional comfort or cleansing


  • Inflatable or rubber cushion rings, aka “O” rings
    • Cushion rings are used to relieve pressure off of the rectum or lower back/spine.
    • These rings can help provide patients with relief for a variety of conditions, from hemorrhoids to spinal injuries (such as a bruised tailbone).


  • Extendable Arms (Reachers/Grippers)
    • Extendable arms are most often used in patients who have difficulty bending over.
    • They are most commonly used to grab things that have fallen on the floor, or to easily reach things that the patient would otherwise have to strain to reach.


  • Braces (for the elbow, knee, ankle, etc.)
    • A variety of specialized braces are available, and are intended to provide stability to the desired body part. These are commonly used to help relieve pressure or to prevent the wearer from moving in a way which will cause discomfort to an injury.
    • Ankle and foot braces are available in a variety of designs. They can range from a slip-on compression over the ankle, to a full-length boot. Each of the following conditions uses a special type of ankle/foot brace: drop foot, Achilles’ tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bunions, ankle sprains/strains, and ankle swelling.
      • Aircasts are inflatable boots that use air to keep the ankle in a stable position. These are sometimes preferred to typical plaster casts, since they can be easily removed.
      • Knee braces are used for conditions affecting the knee, such as ACL injuries, arthritis, or Runner’s Knee. There are several types of knee braces – those with openings at the knee, slip-on braces, strap-on braces, metal braces, and braces that are a simple band placed directly under the knee.
      • Leg braces come in a variety of lengths, stretching anywhere from the hip down to the ankle/foot. Generally, these braces are used to either immobilize the leg completely, or give it only a limited range of motion.
      • Back braces support the back for a variety of conditions, including: herniated discs, lower back or sciatic pain, and for support when lifting heavy objects. Specialized back braces are available for patients with scoliosis.
      • Abdominal braces are commonly used after certain types of abdominal surgeries. By providing pressure and support around the abdomen, it makes moving around – or even coughing and sneezing – less painful. Abdominal braces are also used to keep hernias inside the abdomen until corrective surgery can be performed.
      • Wrist braces are commonly seen on bowlers and other athletes who need to extra support for their wrists.  Wrist braces are also frequently used by patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is a painful condition resulting from a pinched nerve caused by repetitive use of the wrist.
        • Typical wrist braces are flat, and limit the range of motion of the wrist.
        • Other braces, known as “Cock-up Splints,” use a piece of bent metal that rests under the hand, raising it above the wrist.
        • Other braces contain a special splint designed to immobilize the thumb.
        • Elbow braces are commonly used for a condition called “Tennis Elbow,” which is named such because it is frequently seen in tennis players. In these patients, there is soreness on the outside of the upper arm near the elbow, which may be a result of inflammation or tearing of the tendon. These braces are designed to put pressure on certain parts of that tendon to prevent it from moving around, relieving pain associated with this condition.
        • Cervical collars are commonly used for neck injuries or spinal injuries. These braces are designed to lift the head, relieving pressure off of the spine. They also prevent the patient from turning their head, which could worsen their injury. Cervical collars come in a variety of heights – the correct height is determined by the length of the patient’s neck and the desired “lift” of the head that is required.
        • Clavicle or shoulder braces are used for a few reasons, including: fractured clavicles, chronic shoulder pain, and even to correct or maintain good posture.

How can the Medicine Shoppe help?

The Medicine Shoppe caries all of the above types of DME. However, not all DME is displayed in the front of the shop. If there is a particular type of DME you are looking for, please ask for assistance. In the event that we do not have a particular product you are looking for, or you need a different size, we welcome special orders. Special orders typically arrive next day.


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