One of the most common questions we encounter during or prior to the installation process is “ Where should the grab bars be placed?” There are a number of factors that should be taken into account when forming a decision as to where the safety bars should be placed. These factors should all be considered, even in the case of a somewhat healthy individual looking to add some degree of safety to their home environment.
This gathering of information both subjective and objective is the first important step to take when deciding upon grab bar placement. This is really a professional approach to installation.
Where to install? The first step is to quickly assess the situation.
AGE, ANTHROPOMETRIC, MEDICAL, AND SOCIAL FACTORS RELATED TO GRAB BAR PLACEMENT
Those involved in the process of recommendation and installation of grab bars should be in tune with the Functional Factors - Age or Medically related factors that may govern the placement of handrails. These factors are related to the physical and mental status of the user(s) and the primary use of the grab bars for these individuals - assistive vs preventative or both.
An awareness of these factors will usually help to determine the most advantageous locations for grab rail placement by taking into account limitations of strength, mobility, balance, visual acuity, motor and, sensation.
Patients with Parkinson’s for instance may in some instances have notable difficulty with the process of entering or exiting the shower.
Those who have experienced a stroke may have limitations and neglect of one side requiring them to have access and assistance available to them on the more functional side.
Joint replacements, lower or upper extremity fractures, rotator cuff repairs, the list goes on, and each situation requires an individualized approach to grab bar placement.
I frequently run into situations where bars have been placed incorrectly by individuals who are not really sensitive to the entire situation. In some cases poorly located grab bars can actually make it less safe for the individual.
I have listed a few of the more common user-related factors that should be initially determined prior to the installation either through self-evaluation by the patient or client or through observation and assessment by an experienced home safety specialist. This can be done in quite an informal way and quickly provide a lot of valuable information to help one decide to grab bar placement.