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On Grabrail Prescription

I recently attended a beaut short course for OTs at the Sydney Independent Living Centre on the topic of  “Grabrails”.   It was evident at the course, that there continues to be a lack of research in the area of grabrail prescription.

Some interesting work has been done by Damien O’Meara on grabrail prescription. For example, O’Meara indicates that if someone has had an injury to one side, then grabrails may need to be installed on the opposite side to reduce the amount of force on the lower limb joints on the injured side.

In the absence of any other solid research in the area, I always think that before prescribing grabrails for a person, there is a need to consider various factors associated with (1) the person (eg their vision, cognition, physical and functional status when examining sit to stand or other transfers etc), (2) the environment (eg the distance of the toilet from the side wall, height of the pan, wall materials, location of studs etc) and (3) the task (eg sitting, standing in a toilet or shower etc).

I am wondering if anyone has any tips on grabrail prescription based on their clinical experience and any research?

For example, if someone presents with back pain, do you consider recommending bilateral grabrails in a toilet area to ensure that the person’s pain is not aggravated?  Do you have a preference for one style of rail over the other for particular purposes?

I would be interested to hear your thoughts….