Equipment to help bathroom use when injured – Showerbuddy

Equipment to help bathroom: use when injured

Assistive technology plays a crucial role in rehabilitation and conducting tasks for millions of people across the world each day. While for plenty of these people this equipment doesn’t solely cater to their support needs, they’re still an important complementary factor to a good support plan and people around the individual.

  • Assistive technology can help

  • When someone experiences an injury from a life event, sporting accident or condition, the simple activities like eating and using the bathroom become far more complex. In this guide, we’re going to specifically cover a number of assistive technologies that help seriously injured people as they navigate their way through recovery. Have we missed something? Let us know via our contact page and we’ll add it below.

Grab: bars

  • Grab bars are typically metal, either as exposed stainless steel or painted / sealed with another colour. They are designed to be installed into bathroom walls around key places someone may need extra leverage to move. Grab bars are designed in a number of different configurations, including:

    • Horizontal grab bars – good for posturing up off a seated position, or pulling towards or pushing away from the wall. Can be used to pull a wheelchair along the edge of a wall. Can also be leant on and used to maintain a body position for someone with other support in place or adequate leg strength. A very common format of grab bar.
    • Vertical grab bars – parallel with the wall, these are predominantly used for pull and pushing away, or steading oneself from leaning forward or back. They aren’t as useful for pulling up if the user doesn’t have other support in place or some degree of personal mobility to lift their own weight. The join at the wall and curved bottom end of the bar may require some level of support but not that of a horizontal version.
    • Diagonal grab bars – these look to combine functions of lifting and lowering, support and pushing and pulling. These are common in public disabled toilets where the solutions need to be as universal as possible for different impairments.

    Grab bars will also typically have some sort of grip design across the length of the handle. This may be a diamond or square pattern knurling that provides much better traction between a wet hand and the bar vs. a smooth surface.

    These can be a good option provided they are placed in the right way and the house is owned and therefore can be subject to permanent modification. But if the state of rehabilitation is going to evolve in the foreseeable future with eventual removal of any support or equipment, a standalone, non-destructive solution may be better.

    The good news about grab bars is that they aren’t as significant an installation as some other equipment like hoists or permanent shower chairs. This means that remedial work to return the bathroom to previous condition is often no major exercise. Of course, if the home is rented, the grab bar may not be possible to start with.

  • Anti-slip: mats

  • Slip mats are popular in many households

    with young kids or elderly occupants – or even just in shower floors with poor anti-slip designs. Anti-slip mats are designed in formats for inside the bathtub or shower unit, but also as bathmats with the top side appearance of a regular bath mat, but with additional underside rubber gripping properties. Anti-slip mats may help those during physical rehab by:

    • Creating more traction under foot with the bath
    • Reducing slips and falls during transfers
    • Offering some grip for assistive equipment
    • Reducing slips at the basin or toilet surrounding floor space

    Anti-slip mats do some in a broad range of types and unfortunately not all of these are good quality or reliable. With slips being a real hazard with serious personal safety implications, it’s crucial to work with health professionals and your OT to determine a) if an anti-slip mat is required and b) the best type and model of anti-slip mat to install. The OT can also oversee the installation of these, ensuring their placement is secure and well-positioned. Avoid buying a cheap option from your homewares store or online without speaking to the OT first.

  • Raised: Toilet Seat

  • Raised toilet seat fixtures are designed to maximise the height of the seated user so that mounting and disembarking are less strenuous on the user.Like anti-slip mats, a riser for a toilet seat comes in many forms and degrees of function, so be sure to determine the best solution for you or your loved one with the help of a qualified OT or health provider. Some risers will latch onto the toilet bowl, others just onto the seat. For significant mobility impairment, the better format of toilet raiser may be a free-standing option that can accommodate heavier weight and shifting of that weight off a centre axis.

    The bending down to sit on a toilet seat demands strength and coordination from upper legs, core and upper body for balance. If these are compromised, then a higher seat will help, with arm rests providing even more support.

  • Transfer: Benches

  • Transfer benches are popular choices for many people and their families going through the physical rehabilitation journey. These are designed to sit both inside and out of the shower or bath unit and help the user be shifted across the edge with less manual strain.Transfer benches are available at both the low cost option and more expensive options, although we’d suggest that if your needs are significant, even the expensive transfer benches fail to offer a complete transfer without manual input.

    The transfer bench is common in the latter stages of a rehabilitation process because the user may be able to conduct transfers more independently as they regain function and strength.

  • Standalone: Shower Stool

  • A standalone shower stool inside the shower or bathtub is an inexpensive way to get a seated body position and take the strain off the individual standing or leaning. These come in a wide variety of formats including simple plastic and metal framed options and wooden seated variants.

    Standalone shower chairs can be very impractical for someone with serious mobility challenges. These are more designed for a user with slight degradation in strength such as an elderly person who can otherwise walk around, or something in the latter stages of their rehabilitation who may not solely rely on the stool but like having it there if needed. The build quality of the standalone options is often quite poor when compared with a fixed option or indeed a full bathroom mobility transfer system, especially those you might buy from a big department store. In saying that, good quality options are available in the market too.

  • Removable: Shower Head

  • Okay, so this isn’t really ‘assistive technology’ in the traditional sense – many bathrooms have removable shower heads as a matter of convenience for everyone to use. But for someone working through a physical impairment the removable shower head is a key component of getting bathed completely where bodily positioning is limited.The removable shower head is also a crucial element of allowing the individual to bathe themselves once they’ve reached a baseline level of upper body control and mobility. Seated in a shower chair, they can use the shower head to complete bathing, and get back some of that much deserved independence and privacy.

  • Hoists and: Lifts

  • Taking the body weight off a seriously injured person in the process of rehabilitation is a very common practice.Bathroom use is sometimes determined to be a level of risk where the best solution is considered to be mounting the user into a sling or fabric seat and lifted off the ground to be more easily moved across the bathroom for bathing (and toilet use). Hoist systems may be required for use in the bedroom and the rest of the house as well.

    These are effective solutions, but the cost and time to install and onboard these are considerable too. While in some parts of the world some funding may be available, the full costs aren’t necessarily covered.

A Full Bathroom: Transfer System

  • So what if permanent modification is impractical, expensive, or impossible? What if the cheap or basic solutions aren’t adequate for the needs of someone with a serious injury? This is where a bathroom transfer system comes in. The user sits in a comfortable, secure chair, and can be moved around the bathroom to use the toilet, wash up and bathe all without leaving the seated position.There are versions available to suit pretty much any bathroom and configuration – wet room, bathtub, or single shower unit. For bathrooms with a bathtub or shower edge, these systems connect to a transfer bridge and in-shower base, where the user (still seated) is connected and shifted across seamlessly into the shower to bathe. They’re able to stay seated where they are for toilet use, with a commode opening and chair height that lets them use the toilet easily.

    So while hoists and lifts may technically meet the needs of a seriously injured individual going through rehabilitation, a shower chair transfer system can provide an equivalent function without the cost or labour. And when personal mobility is improving, these chairs allow for more independent operation where a hoist system would not. And in our experience working with those recovering from an injury, gaining independence is a big deal.

More information: about this topic

You can find useful information about this topic across the web via the following excellent online resources:

Helpful Guides: Learn more in these related guides

  • Using The Toilet With An Injury

  • How To Bathe Comfortably During Rehab

  • Common Injuries And How They Prevent Bathroom Activities

  • Planning Bathroom Routines During Rehabilitation