Early history of adaptive clothing

The little story behind adaptive clothing:

Adaptive clothing was developed to resolve problems frequently encountered by caregivers and loved ones while taking care of people suffering from a loss of independence. In the past, adaptive clothing merely consisted of regular clothing that had been lightly modified. Throughout the 1980s, certain manufacturers and distributors developed and marketed different products specifically designed to meet the needs of people who have lost their independence. Amongst these products were tops (shirts, blouses, camisoles) and dresses (nightgowns), all fitted with large openings at the back. There were also pants with side closures and others without seats for patients who wear incontinence garments.

The design for the majority of these products was based on that of the hospital gown. Double panels at the back prevented the patient’s back from being exposed, while the front of the garment gave the impression that the patient was wearing an everyday outfit. These panels closed with Velcro placed at the shoulders. People with reduced mobility could, therefore, put on this clothing without having to lift their arms or leave the comfort of their wheelchair.

Over time, many improvements were made to the products. In order to maintain a patient’s dignity, panels were added to the bottomless pants. The Velcro used on adaptive garments was replaced with pressure buttons. This change allowed to better preserve the condition of the closures, as it had been noticed that drying cycles tended to affect the Velcro’s adhesive properties. In addition, the Velcro bands caused friction and irritation on the elderly’s already delicate skin.

Since then, manufacturers of adaptive clothing have added different products to their lines of garments. From underwear to outerwear, patients suffering from a loss of independence now have access to a full closet of choices.