RI woman designs unique mittens for arthritic hands

Marita Loffredo’s rheumatoid arthritis has taken a toll on her through the years. Despite all her health challenges, she has developed what she refers to as a handi-capable mitten, Phalang-ease. (WJAR)

"Every day I wake up, it's a good day," said 52-year-old Marita Loffredo who admits her days are numbered due to the many complications of rheumatoid arthritis.

"It's like whack-a-mole,” said Loffredo. “One thing pops up, you take care of that, then something else crops up and you take care of that."

Her diagnosis at 18 years old has taken a toll over the years, as her hands are severely disfigured.

"It's very awkward, but I do get what I need to get done," said Loffredo.

Two years ago, she developed pulmonary hypertension.

"The rheumatoid is a connective disease tissue disease, so anywhere in your body that you have connective tissue you can have a flare up,” she said. “And for me, it happened in my lungs and because my lungs don't work well. It puts a strain on my heart.”

Despite all her health challenges, Loffredo has developed what she refers to as a handi-capable mitten, Phalang-Ease.

"So, it has a flap. This way, because if you have swollen wrists, everything hurts," she demonstrated while putting the glove on.

"The material is top quality fleece. It conforms with the hand. I removed the excess bulk. There's a suede palm patch for grip and one of the best things about these is they're 100 percent wind resistant, so you don't feel any cold,” Loffredo said.

"It’s extremely well thought out," Melissa Behm of the Arthritis Foundation in Rhode Island, said. "In Rhode Island, we have 226,000 adults and 1,000 children that have been doctor-diagnosed with arthritis.”

Nationally, arthritis affects 53 million adults, with about one million of them having rheumatoid arthritis like Loffredo.

But she's hoping many of them will find her mittens handy.

Loffredo will be selling her gloves at the Arthritis Foundation Walk on Sunday. Registration is free and starts at 10 a.m., while the walk is set to begin at 11:15 a.m. It will take place at the track next to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

The mittens sell for $37.50 and come in small, medium and large. For more about the mittens, click here.

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