The Census Bureau defines disability status through six types of questions measuring difficulty with hearing, vision, cognition, walking/climbing stairs, self-care, and independent living. There are 2 million new wheelchair users in the United States every year. Separate from those who use a wheelchair, 11.6 million people use canes, walkers or crutches.
So for wheelchair users and those using canes, walkers or crutches for mobility, how do you still maintain an active lifestyle despite the limitations presented by your current situation? How do you maintain everyday habits and activities like working, cooking, enjoying the outdoors or even showering independently?
Something as simple as showering independently can be really important for those with limited mobility. For those with a disability or more permanent mobility issues, bathing even with assistance can prove to be a challenge. Wheelchairs may have wheelchair seat covers and side guards that fold to make accessibility more feasible, but not all wheelchairs are suitable for shower use. For more self-reliant bathing and ease of use with a beasy transfer board, a shower chair may be the best option available.
Use of a rehab shower chair can make showering easier on someone with limited mobility as well as those who may be caring for them. Rehab shower chairs are bathing devices which ensure the safety and comfort of those who have difficulty standing in the shower. Finding the right rehab shower chair for your needs involves consideration of several important points:
– Weight capacity: standard or bariatric? What is the weight capacity needed for your rehab shower chair? Shower chairs are available in a variety of sizes in order to accommodate the needs of a variety of customers. The proper support size of the shower chair is important. Most shower chairs are designed to hold up to 400 pounds.
– Construction: aluminum or plastic? Shower chairs vary in the materials from which they are constructed. Some chairs are exclusively composed of plastic materials, while others feature aluminum construction. The choice of which frame material is superior is entirely up to the customer. Aluminum tends to be at the higher end of the price point, while models constructed out of plastic or PVC piping tend to be lower in cost.
– Size: compact or basic? Although most rehab shower chairs are designed to be compact enough to fit in a standard shower, not everyone’s shower is going to be the same size. Therefore, size must be considered when looking to purchase a shower chair for your needs. For smaller bathing quarters, a compact shower chair would be an ideal fit. For standard size bathrooms/bathtubs, basic or bariatric size shower chairs are likely to be compatible. Knowing the specific measurements of your shower before looking to purchase a shower chair is extremely helpful. That way, you can look for a chair within the shower’s dimensions rather than going in blind-sided.
– Mobility: fixed or portable? Are you looking for a permanent solution to bathing under limited mobility, or is this something that may be temporary? Are you able to lift a chair in and out of the shower with ease, or is this something you see as a fixed installment into your bathing routine? Knowing your needs will narrow down the window for you to purchase the right rehab shower chair.
– Design: upright or recumbent? Do you want the back of your chair upright when you shower, or would you prefer some give to the back and seat of the chair? For many users, the ability to receive sturdy back support or lean back in their shower chair is a necessity. Particularly for individuals receiving assistance from a caregiver, having the option to lean back will assist in the process of bathing. Many shower chairs are designed with recumbent features, offering reclining backrests as well as rising leg rests. For others, an upright shower chair may be suitable as well.
Knowing what your mobility and accessibility needs are before looking to purchase a rehab shower chair can make the experience easier, less time consuming and more affordable as well.