What Is a Shower Chair?
A shower chair is typically a four-legged chair with rubberized feet, usually made with aluminum legs and a durable, plastic seat (some models also have chair backs), used to provide additional support in the bath or shower, and make it easier for the elderly, or people who have mobility issues to get in and out of the bath or shower.
As its name implies, this is a highly-specialized type of seating. Its design is optimized for use in the bath or shower, providing users with limited mobility a greater degree of independence. Its main aim is to help reduce the risk of slips and falls while bathing.
They are used to facilitate transferring a person from a wheelchair and into the shower chair. This added piece of equipment is not always required, of course, depending on the mobility of the user in question.
Note that shower chairs are not considered Durable Medical Equipment, and as such, are not covered under Medicare Part B.
Types of Shower Chairs
While it’s true that the standard design features four legs with rubberized feet, there are a surprising number of different types of shower chairs available on the market today. We’ll list these just below and highlight their key differences.
- Transfer Bench – These are designed specifically for people with extreme limitations of mobility. Two of the rubberized feet are placed outside the tub, with the other two being inside, allowing the user to slide across the bench from a wheelchair and into the shower.
- Folding Stool Style – The simplest and most cost-effective devices, these sturdy folding stools feature the standard rubberized feet, handgrips to facilitate moving to and from the shower, and a seat with no back for limited support while bathing.
- Standard Shower Chair – Featuring rubberized feet, handgrips, back support, and a wide seat.
- Fold-Down – Designed for permanent installation in a shower, these provide two rubberized feet, with the chair back mounted to the shower wall itself for stability. Usually paired with a support rod built into the adjacent shower wall to serve as a handgrip when moving to and from the shower.
- Rolling – This model distinguishes itself with the presence of rubberized wheels with locking mechanisms. The picture illustrates that some models also feature a flip-up cushioned seat, providing both shower and commode chair functions.
- Baby Shower Chairs – While there are a few different types of baby shower chairs, they all perform the same function. To provide stability and comfort for your child, while making it easier for parents to bathe their infant children without excessive bending and back strain. Here’s a fairly typical example:
Origin and Brief History
Shower chairs are a relatively recent development, with the first patent being filed in 1973, marking their creation. The initial design was little more than a wheelchair with the wheels removed and replaced by rubberized feet.
Since then, manufacturers have taken advantage of advances in materials sciences to change and improve the design, ultimately morphing into the various types of shower chairs we see today.