The vast majority of home accidents occur in the bathroom. With over 70% of accidents taking place in
this often slippery and wet environment, bathroom safety should be of utmost importance to everyone.
Some modifications to this room might be in order for aging individuals, or for those who are disabled due
to injury or illness. One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to accomplish this is through the use of
strategically placed bathroom support rails. Utilizing support rails for the toilet, shower and bathtub can
help prevent the next accident statistic.
What Types of Bathroom Support Rails are Available?
Bathtub, Shower and Bathroom Support Rails
The most commonly used grab bars are used for the bathtub, shower and bathroom walls. Because getting
in and out of a slippery bathtub is challenging for any individual regardless of ability or non-ability,
installing some kind of safety rails is a good idea in every bathroom. There are specific models to use for
inside a shower or bathtub, as opposed to models designed for extra support on bathroom walls. The
majority of grab bars intended for use in the bathroom range from 12-inches to 48-inches, bringing a great
variety to choose from for every sized wall. Longer grab bars translate to more surface area to grip from
different angles and positions. Strategically placed, these bathroom safety rails can help an individual to
move more securely in and around the bathroom.
Bathtub and shower support rails are offered in a variety of styles to accommodate every user’s unique
needs. Some are installed directly into the walls of the shower or walls above the tub, while other designs
attach directly onto the outside edge of the bathtub. These grab bars offer a steadying brace while moving
in or out of the tub or shower, and also provide extra support while standing in the shower.
Toilet Support Rails
Enhancing safety specifically for commode use, toilet grab bars are another vital aid in preventing accidents
in the bathroom. These support solutions come in several varying designs that include floor-to-ceiling
tension mount poles, safety frames that surround the toilet, and rails that bolt securely to the toilet itself.
Specially placed grab bars can also be used for getting up from and down to the toilet, while other rails can
be secured into the wall behind the toilet, jutting out to the front.
How to Choose the Best Bathroom Support Rail
There are many various factors that should be considered before choosing the best bathroom support rails
for any individual situation. What is perfect for one may not be suitable at all for another. Here are some
highlights and tips to make your selection the right one for you:
The rail should be comfortable to grip and hold, with plenty of room between the wall surface and the rail
to achieve the best handgrip. This is especially important for individuals with weak or painful hands.
Individuals with arthritis often feel more secure gripping a smaller sized rail (generally between 1-inch and 1
Colored grab bars generally provide a greater contrast with the color of the wall, making them ideal for the
visually-impaired. Or, choose black or chrome for a light-colored or white wall, and white or chrome for a
darker colored wall.
The choice of finish is also important. While a brushed or textured finish will enhance traction when hands
are wet, make sure the finish isn’t too rough for fragile and/or aging skin.
Make sure the grab bar can support your weight. Most bathroom support rails are designed to
accommodate 250 pounds, but bariatric models can safely handle much more.
Placement is extremely important. One way to truly figure out where to best place the bathroom safety rails
is to go through the motions of using the bathroom in all the ways you normally would. Sit on the toilet,
stand in the shower or sit in the bathtub to see where your reach would be if you had a grab bar, then mark
the walls with a pencil to indicate installation.
Providing support when lowering, or pushing up from sitting, horizontal rails are commonly used by
individuals who find it easier to push down on a rail rather than pull on it.
Inclined or angled rails are fixed at a slight angle to the horizontal, enabling individuals with hand or wrist
weakness and pain to support their forearms on the rail while pushing up, spreading body weight over a
larger area. Useful in confined spaces, right-angled rails feature a 90-degree curve to offer both a vertical
and horizontal hold, keeping the wrist in a neutral position. The user’s hand can move up the bar to
maintain support once they are standing.
Vertical rails provide support while pulling up into a standing position. Straight rails are generally wall-fixed
rails that run in only one direction. They can be positioned in an inclined, vertical or horizontal position.
Floor-to-ceiling rails attach to both ceiling and floor and are most often positioned near the toilet, or on the
outer edge of the bathtub to help with turning around and stepping in or out of the tub.
Rehabmart offers a comprehensive selection of superior quality bathroom support rails from well-known and innovative manufacturers that include Invacare, Linido, Drive Medical, Medline, HealthCraft, Maddak and many more.
Mike Price, OT & Hulet Smith, OT