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Grab bars are safety devices designed to enable a person to maintain balance, lessen fatigue while standing, hold some of their weight while maneuvering, or have something to grab onto in case of a slip or fall. A caregiver may use a grab bar to assist with transferring a patient from one place to another. A worker may use a grab bar to hold on to as he or she climbs, or in case of a fall.
Grab bars for accessibility
Grab bars increase accessibility and safety for people with a variety of disabilities or mobility difficulties. Although they are most commonly seen in public handicapped toilet stalls, grab bars are also used in private homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes. Grab bars are most commonly installed next to a toilet or in a shower or bath enclosure.
Some grab bars also have a light feature and double as a night light offering up a little more safety at night when using the bathroom.
Grab bar locations
Grab bars next to a toilet help people using a wheelchair transfer to the toilet seat and back to the wheelchair. They also assist people who have difficulty sitting down, have balance problems while seated or need help rising from a seated position.
Used in a shower or bathtub, grab bars help to maintain balance while standing or maneuvering, assist in transferring into and out of the enclosure, and generally help to mitigate slips and falls.
Floor to ceiling grab bars, or security poles, can be used in the bedroom to help one get out of bed or get up from a chair, or to help caregivers by assisting in transfers.
Grab bars are often used in conjunction with other medical devices to increase safety. For example, a grab bar added to a shower is frequently used with a shower chair and hand held shower head. Grab bars installed by a doorway are usually added near a railing. In addition, grab bars can be placed on any wall where extra support is needed even if it is not the "usual place" they are used.
Grab bar installation positions
Grab bars can be installed in different positions:
Vertical grab bars may help with balance while standing.
Horizontal grab bars provide assistance when sitting or rising, or to grab onto in case of a slip or fall.
Some grab bars can be installed at an angle, depending on the needs of the user and the positioning. Grab bars installed horizontally offer up the greatest safety and care should be taken when installing them on the angle as this contrary to the ADA Guidelines. Often this angled installation is easier for people pulling themselves up from a seated position.
There are many considerations when deciding which grab bar to use and how best to install it. Properly securing a grab bar is important so that it doesn't pull out of the wall when pressure is applied to it. Each installation should be properly secured into wall blocking or studs to provide the best support. If no studs are available, specialized mollies can be used to spread out grab forces across a wider area of the wall.