Sliding swivel bath seats come in an array of types and styles. The ideal type for you will depend on a number of things which include: your physical skills, height, weight, size of your bathtub, location of nearby fixtures, budget, and your aesthetic preferences.
Below we have provided a quick summary of the sliding swivel bath seat types that tend to work best for different physical needs as well as for different bathroom scenarios.
The legless models that rest on the bathtub’s walls and the two-legged models that clamp to the tub wall are both good considerations for persons of shorter stature because they rest at or near the height of the tub walls.
If you are tall, it is usually wise to avoid the models designed to rest on the tub walls because it will probably be too low to allow you to comfortably sit down and stand up. Instead, opt for a free-standing chair or bench-style model with height-adjustable legs. Models will vary in the maximum seat heights they can achieve. Some models can achieve a seat height of up to 26″ tall. If the inherent seat height is not sufficient for your needs, it may be possible to further enhance the seat height by another 4″-8″ by adding bath bench leg extensions. To learn more, visit the bath bench leg extensions guide.
Bariatric sliding bath bench models, oftentimes referred to as “Heavy Duty” models, are ones that can accommodate a weight capacity of 300 pounds or more. At this time, there are only a small handful of models available that are designed to accommodate a weight capacity of over 300 lbs. A few models are capable of accommodating up to 500 lbs.
Models with two armrests are beneficial for users with weak legs who experience increased difficulty standing up from a seated level. The armrests provide a higher surface to push up from, giving some added “oomph” to make standing up easier. For additional support, consider adding grab bars on or around the bathtub. To learn more about different types of grab bars, visit the Homeability guide for Grab Bars.
If you are someone who cannot walk easily or at all, a Bath Transfer System is a good consideration. Bathtub transfer systems, neatly combine both a sliding bath seat and a transport chair together in one. They consist of a stationary 4-legged frame that gets placed inside the tub, a detachable transport chair (similar to a wheelchair) and a bridge that connects the two together. A caregiver can wheel you into the bathroom, insert the connector piece, and slide the seat (and you) over the track and into the bathtub. Some bath slider system models have a chair-like seat that remains fixed upright and others have a reclining seat. A model with a reclining seat is a good consideration if you are experiencing difficulty with sitting balance now or anticipate having more difficulty in the future due to a progressive illness.
Tub Dimensions & Bathroom Layout
When you are choosing a sliding swivel bath seat, it is also important to take into account the dimensions of your bathtub, size of the bathroom, and the proximity of nearby fixtures.
Some sliding bath seat models have longer tracks, making them better options for wider bathtubs. If your tub has high tub walls too and the model selected is not tall enough for your tub it is possible to add bath bench leg extensions to some models to further enhance the bench’s height. To learn more, visit the Bath Bench Leg Extensions Guide.
Legless models, 2-legged models, and 4-legged chair-style models are all designed to reside fully within the confines of the tub, making them better considerations for small bathrooms. Whereas, bench-style models have two legs that rest outside of the bathtub, which will occupy precious floor space a person using a walker or wheelchair needs to move and turn around, making bench-style models a less desirable option for small bathrooms.
Is there is a toilet adjacent to your tub? If so, another consideration is to select a toilet-to-tub sliding transfer bench. This type makes it possible to sit down on the toilet and slide the seat over the track and directly into the tub. Toilet to tub sliding transfer benches have adjustable-height legs, nicely providing you with two equipment solutions in one: a shower seat and a higher toilet seat too if needed. Tub to Toilet models are available with different track lengths, so it is important to select a model with a track length that is long enough to extend from your toilet to the interior of your tub.
Bench-style models are usually preferable because the seat extends over the tub wall, making it easier to board. Large bathrooms have more floor space, which can make it possible for persons using a walker or wheelchair to still move around inside the bathroom even with the bench legs resting outside the tub. The bench-style seat may not work well, however, in all large bathrooms. One instance it does not work is when there are sliding glass doors present. In this case, an easy remedy to make it work is to remove the shower doors and hang a shower curtain.
Another instance when the bench-style seats may not work well is in a bathtub whose interior walls curve inwards significantly along the bottom edges. The two bench legs that reside inside the tub will come to rest at the point where the tub flattens out, which can force the seat further outwards over the tub wall resulting in you potentially finding yourself sitting half in and half out of the tub. If your tub does curve inwards significantly at the bottom edges, then it is probably better to choose a model that remains fully contained inside the tub (see examples for small bathrooms above). Or, another alternative is to purchase a more advanced model equipped with four legs that reside inside the tub, which help to hold the track more centered in the tub.
The Homeability Advice™
Sliding swivel bath seats come in a variety of different styles, with different seats and different support frames. To learn more about the different types of seats and support frames available, visit the guide: Sliding Swivel Bath Seats: The Basics.
One drawback of sliding swivel bath seats is that they can make it impossible to tuck the shower curtain inside the tub, which in turn makes it difficult to keep the water inside the tub. Tips for adapting the shower curtain can be found in our Accessible Shower Curtain guide.
Obviously, sitting while bathing is definitely safer and easier, but it also comes with its own drawback, which is that you will be further away from the shower head. A simple remedy is to add a handheld shower head. To learn more about selecting an appropriate model for your needs, visit our Handheld Showerhead guide.
As always, we recommend you seek advice from your qualified health care professional about the appropriateness of a given solution or product for your needs.
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