Equipment to help bathroom use when injured
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.
- 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.
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
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.
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
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
Hoists and Lifts
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 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:
- A Guide To Bathroom Grab Bars – Aging In Place
- Getting aids and equipment to help with an injury – ACC (NZ)
- 5 Mobility Bath Aids that will help make your bathroom safer – Leef.com.au
Using The Toilet With An Injury
It’s understandable that the idea of someone else being in the same room with us, let alone near us during toilet use is unpleasant. There are few activities in a person’s daily life that demain such privacy.
How To Bathe Comfortably During Rehab
Bathing isn’t just a function of daily life to keep us clean and smelling nice; it’s the moment in the day we regaing our thoughts and relax. Why should this be any different for someone in the midst of a physical rehabilitation journey?
Common Injuries And How They Prevent Bathroom Activities
There’s hundreds of serious injuries that can prevent bathroom activity from being carried out without support. Physical rehabilitation is often required to assit the individual to regain their coordination and strength.