The DesignAbility Program has created hundreds of custom solutions for children and adults. Below are some examples of these unique bathroom projects.
: Needed a heavy-duty bath bench with a reclined back and a front lip gap for the shower curtain to accommodate a lateral transfer from his wheelchair.
Using one side of a recycled bath lift a substantial bath bench was welded-up with a grab rail and adjustable levelling feed. A gel cushion was backed with foam tile to increase cushioning. Back rest included two 2 inch thick foam cushions and a vinyl cover. Hockey pucks made contact with the tub edge and the back adjustment is reinforced with turnbuckles.
Request: Client needed help getting into the shower in a very cramped bathroom. The client is a tenant and as such is unable to do any modifications and commercial transfer units were expensive and too big for the space.
Solution: A recycled commode chair was trimmed down. The seat/arm portion had aluminum channels attached on the front and back. The base has casters and was re-built with "U" channels to hold inverted mini-casters to provide the travelling action. A two-legged frame was built for the shower portion of the assembly, complete with mini-casters. Heavy-duty 5/16" pin hinges were split and welded to each frame for rigid attachments. With this shower/commode chair the client's husband can now wheel her into the tiny bathroom and position the chair over the toilet. After locking the base casters, he can then pin-attach the shower frame to the main chair. A locking pin, which holds the upper chair tight to the lower traveling portion of the chair is then removed and then she can be easily moved into the shower stall.
Modified Commode Chair
Request: Client requested out-board casters for his commode chair and asked if we could keep the swivel side together during loading / unloading etc.
Solution: Aluminum angle was cut, drilled and attached to the bottom of teh chair tube frame with "U" bolts. Lockable casters were added. Lexan strips were heat-formed and fastened to the upper & lower cross tubes to keep them together during rough handling.
Bathtub Seat / Bench
Request: Client needed a stable bath bench that was durable and sustainable with a smooth finish for sliding and ease of movement.
Solution: Using exterior decking material; the bath bench was constructed and fit to the existing tub. The client can now easily access the bench and can slide if necessary as the material used will not cause splinters and will not absorb water. The material used allows the bathbench to be more sustainable than using wood. The bench can also be transported with ease.
Elevated Toilet Seat
Request: Client needed an elevated toilet seat as sitting and getting up from the existing seat was problematic. Could we help to facilitate independent toilet transfers in a situation when no commercially available device was suitable.
Solution: This raised toilet seat was designed through a joint initiative of an Arthritis Society OT and a volunteer from March of Dimes DesignAbility Program for a 78 year old man with a 9 year history of Inclusion Body Myositis which causes extreme proximal muscle weakness in the legs. No commercially available raised toilet seat was high enough to enable complete independence and the design of his bathroom precluded raising the whole toilet. This man’s wife had to lift him on and off the toilet equipped with a 6” raised toilet seat. She could not leave him at home alone for any length of time as he could not toilet independently. She was seeing a physiotherapist because of shoulder problems resulting from the physical stain of assisting him. This custom toilet seat was designed using three 3 ½” commercially available raised toilet seats, strapped together with heavy duty plastic ties and bolted as a unit onto the toilet with the normal toilet seat on top. A removable plastic liner was fabricated to facilitate cleaning. A Versa‐Frame was added on either side of the toilet to allow the client to use his arms to assist him.
Results:This gentleman was able to transfer on and off the toilet safely with dignity and renewed independence. The emotional demands and physical strain on his wife were significantly reduced and she too enjoyed renewed independence.
Shower Head Extension
Request: Client was unable to reach the standard shower head and therefore unable to independantly bathe or use the shower area.
Solution: Using PVC pipe, our volunteer created a shower head extension that can be adjusted in height and pivot out of the way if needed. At the end of the extension is a commercial shower head bracket.
Adjustable Shower Head Rail
Request: Client needed adjustable shower head rails to accommodate a full range of campers, from accessible-needs to self-standing.
Solution: Using 1” perforated galvanized tubing and formed ¼” lexan strips, the vertical rail assemblies were fabricated to attach to studs behind shower wall. Repro U.H.M.W blocks were grooved & notched to mate with vertical tube and commercial handheld shower assemblies.
30” of vertical adjustment, easy-to-use hitchpins for positive locking in place. The sturdy design can even be used as a grab bar.
Request: Client needed a stable bath bench, but did not want water all over the floor.
Solution: Using ¾” baltic birch, 1”X 2” oak and 3/16”X 2” stainless steel flat straps, an assembly was provided with a shower curtain notch. KD fasteners make top reasonably smooth. Unicellular foam reduces bench sliding. Adjustable oak boards allow for easy re-positioning.
Over-the-Toilet Commode Chair
Request: Occupational therapist requested a customized over-the-toilet commode chair with built in bidet sprayer.
Solution: C.P.V.C schedule 80 heavy-wall tube was used to fabricate wash-down design. Garden sprayer was shortened and modified to act as the bidet spray. Diverter valve on existing shower provides water. Shower blender provides comfortable water temperatures. Single grip shut-off on sprayer makes on/off action very easy. Swivel and adjustment with single knob assembly for clients ease of use.
Request: Client needed some relief from her highly-sensitive tailbone while on the commode.
Solution: Using 4" wide industrial webbing with removable vinyl sleeves, a set of soft-seat straps were stiched up. White PVC tubing was notched to cover front rail opening on the frame, and to increase radius. #8 screws were used to attach the straps to rear handrail. Client can now use the commode with comfort. Attachment is easily removable for cleaning, etc.
Transfer Bath Bench
Request: Client needed a transfer bath bench for his mother.
Solution: Using 1"x5" solid plastic lumber, a three slat bath seat was routed, slotted, and assembled. 1" square tube frame, with 1/2" carriage bolt/crutch tip levellers. 3/4" round SS tube handle was added. Slots provide drainage back into tub, while handle added safety and comfort.
Request: Client needed help transferring / lifting up from toilet & bath-bench. Bathroom is very cramped & his caregivers were running out of stamina.
Solution: Unistrut was used for an overhead track, lagged to the ceiling, and heavy hinges were molly-anchored to the side walls. 1/2" conduit was formed into an offset two-hand trapeze, connected by an adjustable chain. Polyester slider allows for two-location positioning, if necessary.
Shower-Commode Chair - Travel Version
Request: Travel-version of shower commode/chair (similar to 2002 project) required.
Solution: Using a recycled commode chair, 1 1/2" PVC leg extensions, including levellers were added. Soft-seat support straps complete the unit. Folds up easily for travelling and is relatively lightweight. Stainless & PVC are no maintenance.
Request: A special needs child needed a safe bath chair for an apartment sized bath tub (bathroom area is not large).
Solution: Using 1" & 1-1/4" PVC tubing, stainless angle, PVC strapping & belt clips; a bath chair was fabricated with a removable mesh for laundering. Child can comfortably & safely recline in bath tub and share face-to-face time with parents. Chair is relatively lightweight and easy to clean/maintain.
Adjustable Shower Head
Request: Client needed her extendable shower head lowered in order to accomodate for bathing and washing up.
Solution: Using plexiglass, a sliding bar and hooks - the volunteer was able to install on the exiting tile and without disrupting fixutre placement - to accomodate the height required for the client to easily reach and grab the extended shower head. Placing two hooks at the bottom enabled the client to hang bath accessories which are also easy to reach and will dry appropriately after use.
Bath Step Stool
Request: The client; a congenital amputee suffered a post-ski fall and injured her elbow - subsequent surgery prevented her from using her elbow - as a result her mobility and independence would be severely restricted. Could we help?
Solution: Volunteers designed an intricately constructed bathroom bench thatt enables the client to get in and out of the tub and when repositioned in front of the toilet can be used as a transfer device. Using a lower stool and longer back for holding created a sturdy step stool which assist in accessing the tub with ease and confidence.
Space Saving Bathroom Door
Request: Could we assist with access door to bathroom area? The existing standard door impedes the space and therefore creates a barrier into the room.
Solution: Using an accordian style door; it can now be opened / closed without impeding space in the bathroom or surrounding areas which helps with accessiblity of the entire space. It is also lightweight and easy to open/close.
Request: Client needed assistance in bathing. Existing tub area is wider than standard.
Solution: Using the 'bridge-over-the-tub" design, a longer version was fabricated to span the jacuzzi with tile-surround. New puck-style anti-skid levellers made the set-up very easy. Private parts cut-out and back support completed this project. Client can now access the tub safely and confidently.
Request: Care sisters needed to move the new shower chair in and out for transfer. Also could the seat swivel and tilt back, have a seatbelt.
Solution: 3/4" steel tubing was formed into a dog-leg handle. Levelling blocks were replaced by 4" heavy duty casters. The swivel used heavy duty gate pins and sleeve hinges. A vibrant pink seat belt was aquired and attached.
Request: Clients existing obsolete power shower chair expired. Could a replacement be put together for the tight shower area?
Solution: Using a recycled over-the-back-of-the-tube lift assembly, a new design power shower seat was devised. Powered by a battery eliminator through an up/down hand-held pushbutton set, the client has complete elevation control at her fingertips.
Extremely stable and smooth running and holds its position well.
Request: Client requested substantial increase in height and stability to his invacare commode.
Solution: Using pieces from a used/discarded walker, white PVC tubing and 3/8" threaded rob, the alterations were made. Provides the added lift, with added strength. Legs are still adjustable.
Commode Chair (Height Adjustment)
Request: Over-sized casters (to accomodate raised floor lip into bathroom) elevated the chome-plated commode chair. Client was concerned with safety and integrity of chair by adjusting wheel height.
Solution: A test set of outrigger guides, lowering the unit 2", was fabricated and tie-wrapped to the unmodified chair. A double 'H' of angle and tube was then built. The chair legs were cut 2" shorter, the side support rails included. The new unit (bridging both 'X' and 'Y') was firmly attached.
The outrigger allowed the client's husband to try it out, without damaging the commode chair. The double 'H' frame added extra cross-strength, while extending the overall footprint only 4 inches.
Request: Client needed back support for her jacuzzi tub, with tilt option.
Solution: Aluminium angle and tube with PE blocks, suction cups, baltic birch plywood and two air cylinders made up back board. Accessories included air valve and mini-compressor. Stable and simple mounting in tub. Two-position lever valve allows for hair washing in comfortable position.
Foldable Soft-Seat Commode
Request: Foldable soft seat commode/ shower chair.
Solution: Using 3/4 copper tube and fittings, PVC 'T's and 1-1/4" aluminum tube, a frame was assembled and soldered. Seating was fabricated using two (2) vinyl-clad 4" wide safety-belts, finished with shoemaker stitching. Adjustable levelling feet with crutch tips, and recycled arm rests finished the unit.
Footrest for Commode
Request: Client needed a flip-up foot rest added to his commode chair.
Solution: A piece of 1/4" baltic plywood was used for the attachment with 'U'-bolts, two 6" gusseted angles for the rest support, and melamine shelving with edging was hinged to provide the foot rest. A piece of 3/16" PVC strip acts as the lifting/holding mechanism.
Client can now use the commode with his feet elevated for comfort and ease.
Request: Clients bathroom was cluttered with a large obstrusive vanity and the taps dripped. She had trouble getting to the toilet and tub, even with help. She needed more clearance but still had to be able to wash her hands.
Solution: A 10" stainless steel mixing bowl and kitchen sink drain assembly were fabricated into a small sink. Custom small counter was covered in laminate. Holes were drilled for both the sink and fixtures. A 5" high white poly backstop was added. Wall mounting brackets completed the unit. Client can access the bathroom with less effort and still wash her hands.
Toilet Seat Lift
Request: Mature client purchased a new padded toilet seat and it did not fit his existing Raz commode. Could new supports be made for proper attachement; as well as increase side clearance? Also the front swivels on his chair do not swivel.
Solution: UHMW was grooved to suite the 1" tube frame. RTA fasteners made for a clean underside. Stainless steel casters were extended with round aluminum to inser4t into the lower legs of his chair.
Ceiling Lift Design & Parts
Request: Family needed help in designing a ceiling-lift track arrangement from bedroom to bath for their teen daughter. Special needs teen was too heavy for mom. Could we suggest a lift layout to handle from bed to chair, and onto toilet and tub?
Solution: A new style sliding tube split rail was fabricated from 3/4" OD PVC tube and 1" aluminum tube. The tube ends were attached to the walls with angle brackets and hardwood blocks. A recycled ceiling lift, with new batteries was modified for simple CTC power pack charging and still operates at 24Volts. A six-foot ceiling track was obtained to get the family started from bed to the chair.
With the rail open, the gap allows the ceiling lift to pass for Into-the-Tub transfers. When closed, it allows for privacy for all the other family members when bathing.
Powered Toilet Seat Lift
Request: Mature client was unable to get up from the toilet unassisted; could we help?
Solution: Joe Toby, a north GTA volunteer, accepted the challenge of making a device that would assist the client with ALS to get up independently from the toilet. A frame of steel tube and strut was fabricated to accept a "U"-shaped padded toilet seat. Two electric cylinders (12" stroke) were installed for the tilt. A 12V DC power pak through a simple double pole switch completed the project. Client got his independance back!
Wall Mounted Shower Seat & Soap Dispenser
Request: A client with Muscular Dystrophy needed modifications done
to his wall mounted shower seat for safety and convenience. He also requested a
soap dispenser that is easily accessible.
Solution: The existing shower seat needed to be reinforced and new
padding added. A new soap dispenser was installed on an existing mounted box
bringing it closer and allowing easy access to soap, shampoo etc.