Jul 032009

If you are physically challenged because you are overweight or permanently or temporarily physically disabled, you can still experience the comfort of a shower.

The products available to help you include:
• Bariatric shower seats
• Wheeled or shower/commode chairs
• Shower transfer benches

Bariatric shower seats

The term “bariatric,” if you are not familiar with it, refers to weight. Simply put, these are shower seats that can hold more weight than the standard shower seat.

Bariatric shower seats are intended for people from 250 pounds and up. There are chairs available for people who weigh up to 700 pounds. These chairs are built to provide extra stability to the larger person in the shower.

Typically, the seat size will be wider than a standard shower seat to accommodate a larger person. Some bariatric shower chairs also have backrests and cross braces for additional stability and support. Be sure the legs of the seat are adjustable so the overweight person can move the seat to a position where his or her legs can also provide support when sitting.

Wheeled or shower/commode chairs

Wheeled shower seats, also called shower/commode chairs, allow people with disabilities to move themselves to the shower and provide seating when taking a shower. Additionally, this type shower chair can be used as a raised toilet seat as these chairs have a removable commode pail.

Wheels should be a major consideration when buying this type of chair. They should be large to accommodate easier movement across various types of floor surfaces. Most will come with swivel casters and safety locks.

Shower/commode chairs that tilt are also available. This allows caregivers to adjust the chair to more easily reach the person in it. The ability to adjust this type of shower seat is important when considering the growth of special needs children as well as the comfort of the adult user.

Shower Transfer Bench

Typically used for transferring from a wheelchair to a bathtub, this type of shower seat can also be used for moving from a wheelchair to a shower.

Shower transfer benches are usually one piece with a long seat in two parts, and four legs. The person moves from their wheelchair to the transfer bench, which is the outside piece, then slides to the actual seat.

Available options usually include padded seating and removable or adjustable backrests and armrests.

There are also sliding shower transfer benches. In these the person transfers from their wheelchair to a shower seat. The seat then slides, most often on rails, to a position where they can more comfortably take a shower. Some shower transfer benches have swivel chairs to add to the user’s convenience.

Typical features include a safety belt and a handle that can be attached to either side of the seat.

Another type of shower transfer seat is a wall-mounted shower seat that swings into the shower. First, the user transfers onto the seat from outside the shower. Then the chair swivels into the shower. When their shower is finished, the user swivels back out of the shower.

Specialty shower seats such as these help physically challenged people be comfortable when taking a shower.