How to get dressed with one hand – The Hemi Technique

If you’ve had a stroke, hand injury, amputation, or loss of coordination you know how difficult it can be to get dressed with one hand.  

Today I’m going to share with you my tips and tricks to make hemi-dressing easier.

Quick Tips to get dressed with one hand

  • Comfort matters
  • Wear snaps instead of button-ups
  • Dress the weak side first
  • Experiment with adaptive equipment

How to put on a shirt with one hand

#1 Get Comfortable

For your first attempt, make the job easier by wearing a shirt that’s loose and easier to wear.  This might include a short sleeve.

#2 Weak Side First

Pull the sleeve over the weak (injured) side first. Next pull the sleeve as close to your armpit as possible. 

#3 Pull it over

T-shirt Method

Put the strong arm in the opposite sleeve, and pull the shirt over your head.

Button up shirt Method

Reach behind your back and put your arm through the sleeve.

#4 Pull it down

Lean forward and reach behind your back.  Pull the shirt down your back.

#5 Buttoning buttons

To make buttons easier, use a button hook. You can also find button-up shirts that use snaps or velcro.

How to put on pants with one hand

Donning pants and socks can be more frustrating than shirts.  Be patient with yourself and don’t give up.

Method 1 – Donning pants in bed

Laying in bed is usually the easiest way to don lower body clothing.  Here are a few steps to make it easier.

  1. Wear comfortable clothes (gym shorts)
  2. Dress the weak side first
  3. Put your leg in the figure 4 position or use a reacher to don pant legs
  4. Bend knees and pull pants up to thighs
  5. Roll to left side and pull up
  6. Roll to Right side and pull up

Method 2 – Donning pants in a chair

#1 Comfort First

Use clothing that’s easy to put on to avoid frustration.  This includes:

  • Wide-leg gym shorts
  • Wide-leg pajamas/pants

#2 Reach and Pull

Try the figure 4 position or bend forward dressing the weak leg first. 

Widen your stance and stand up.  Reach for pants and pull up.

How to put on socks with one hand

The easiest way to don socks with one hand is by using the figure 4 position.  A stool or chair can be used to help.

The 3 finger technique

  1. Put the sock over your first 3 fingers with the fingers spread apart in the shape of a triangle. 
  2. Pull the sock over the big toe
  3. Pull it over the other toes
  4. Pull it up the heel
3 finger technique to don socks one handed

How to put on Shoes with one hand

The hemi-technique for donning foot wear is best used with adaptive equipment such as a long handled shoe horn and elastic shoe laces.

You can also loosen the shoe laces, so the shoes can be slipped on easier.

Other options include

  • Slip on shoes
  • Velcro shoes
Using a shoe horn

Recommended adaptive equipment

The following items can be helpful for Hemi-dressing.

  • A reacher can be used to gather clothes, doff socks, or remove clothes that are hanging.
  • Use a dressing stick to hang up clothes or doff socks.
  • A long handled sponge can be used to clean your back, armpits, or feet.


Depending on the injury, donning upper and lower body clothing can be difficult, but these techniques and the right adaptive equipment can make the job much more successful.

I hope this helped.  For more tips like this subscribe below to my newsletter.

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