Whether at home or at the workplace, bathroom accessibility is crucial for anyone with a physical disability. Because the bathroom should be a safe, barrier-free environment, consult with a physical or occupational therapist and an architectural firm specializing in barrier free environments prior to purchasing bathroom assistive devices or making architectural modifications to your bathroom. The Information Specialists at the National Limb Loss Information Center (1-888-AMP-KNOW) can provide phone numbers of various architectural organizations that specialize in barrier-free environments.
If sitting in a bathtub is not an option, consider the Slider, Bath Trax, or Swivel- Bather by Assistive Technology Inc. (1-800-478-2363). The Slider consists of a rolling shower chair and removable tub frame that can be positioned over an existing bathtub. If the Slider is not appropriate for you, consider Bath Trax - a 3-piece reclining bathing system consisting of a rolling chassis, support sling and inter-locking tub frame. Or, if Bath Trax is not an option, then take a look at the Swivel-Bather, which consists of a seat with aluminum arms that make transfer easy and provides safety while bathing. The seat has a rotation span of 360 degrees and can be locked into four different positions.
Accessibility Healthcare Supplies offers adjustable bath chairs, seats and transfer benches, which make moving in and out of the shower easier. Shower chairs and shower transfer benches are also available through Invacare (1-800-333-6900).
The pleasure of a long, hot, relaxing soak in a bathtub can be yours with certain assistive devices or bathtub modifications. Non-slip bath mats and reinforced safety grab bars (see section on safety grab bars below) make getting in and out of bathtubs much safer.
Bathrooms can be made accessible by replacing doors with curtains. To allow for a wheelchair or other mobility equipment, doorways can be widened. Design firms that specialize in barrier-free environments should be consulted on this matter.
Safety Grab Bars
Reinforced Safety grab-bars can also be installed in showers and bathtubs, and beside commodes to assist in mobility, but prior to installation be sure to consult with the appropriate architectural specialist (see above section on bathtubs). Safety bars in a variety of shapes and sizes are available through Invacare (1-800-333-6900).
The Ergogrip grab-bars by Otto Bock Rehab (1-800-328-4058) are uniquely designed to allow the user to hold on to the grab rail in a natural, comfortable position. Also the generous space between wall and rail ensures that the users hand is not trapped between them.
If you cant use a tub or prefer taking a shower, consider converting the tub to a shower. Luxury Bath Systems (1-800-822-7905) specializes in custom converting existing structures into barrier-free bathroom environments. Luxury Bath Systems franchisees will perform various conversions, according to your specifications, such as removing bathtubs and installing slip-resistant shower pans in their place. LBS franchisees can also install reinforced grab bars, shower seats, adjustable showerheads, single-lever faucets and scald-proof thermostatically-controlled valves. Luxury Bath Systems franchisees promise to complete the conversion in just one day.
Design firms specializing in barrier-free environments offer height adjustable sinks, shelves and motion-activated fixtures for bathrooms. Bomarc Design & Construction (1-415-457-9505), a design firm specializing in barrier-free environments, has founded the Bomarc Barrier Free Foundation, which donates 5 percent of its profits to subsidize remodeling work for those who cannot afford it.
Designed for comfort, the Otto Bock height adjustable washbasin can be adjusted to your ideal height level with the turn of a knob, whether you use the basin standing up or sitting. The whole mechanism is concealed behind an attractive and hygienic cover.
Otto Bock (1-800 328-4058) also offers height adjustable toilets for people with varied requirements. It adjusts without effort, from seated to standing. Both positions are achieved with minimal effort and as the toilet works by water pressure it is safe, requiring no electricity and operates very quietly.
Toilets can also be made user-accessible with the use of elevated seats. Some elevated toilet seats also have armrests. Aluminum and steel toilet frames make transferring on and off the toilet easier and safer.
If you think a frame will not provide adequate assistance, consider the Power Toilet Aid by Assistive Rehabilitation Equipment (1-800-727-8483). This power elevating toilet seat lifts the user to standing height. It does not require any plumbing or electrical hook-ups, and its portable.
The Slider by Assistive Technology Inc., can be used on the toilet as well. For more information on the Slider, see the section on bathtubs.
Toilet Flush Extension
The toilet flush lever extension by Ableware (1-973-628-7600) allows you to flush with your hand, elbow or forearm. It is made of plastic coated steel and easily clamps on to the flush lever with a screw.
Toilet Paper Clamp
Ableware (1-973-628-7600) markets Maddawipes toilet paper clamp. Paper is wrapped around its jaw end, used and dropped. The construction of the clamp makes it accessible to people who have undergone certain kinds of upper limb amputations.
Even if you are in a wheelchair you can still weigh yourself. Sammons Preston Inc. (1-800-323-5547) manufactures a dual weighing scale that has a platform for wheelchairs; this platform is accessible via a floor ramp, which is included with the weighing scale.
Although a barrier-free environment is important, dont forget that safety is also essential. Make sure that your bathroom has both these vital features by consulting with an appropriate specialist before trying a new product or remodeling your bathroom.