THE Bathroom Grab Bar

a truly simple solution.

home health care physical therapy grab bar placement The bathroom grab bar is the next best thing to sliced bread when it comes to bathroom safety equipment! These come in various lengths and sizes. As short as 12" up to 48" typically. Textured for better grip or untextured. Fancy or plain.

Installed properly, they are essentially fail proof structurally. Success depends on strength, range of motion and possibly correct placement and texture. Suction cup grab bars are a great "take with you" fix that have pros and cons.

IMPORTANT NOTE. Contrary to most pictures, conventionally these should be installed either horizontal or vertical. Some pictures depict a diagonal installation. My professional opinion discourages a diagonal install. Why? This lends to more of a "slipping grip" and does not inspire safety for the user. If the user should lose footing while holding to a diagonal bar, a fall is more likely since the hand can easily slide down the bar.

Although one must have sufficient grip strength to use bathroom safety equipment safely and effectively, a stronger grip is required for one placed diagonally vs. the horizontal or vertical bars.

Strategic placement

A little thought goes a long ways with these little helpers. Think it through when deciding where and how to place them

horizontal placement horizontal grab bar position for home health physical therapy bathroom safety For optimal support, users are typically seeking something that will lessen their fear of falling. Pushing down on a grab bar provides several benefits. First, this steady's the person. Secondly, this allows for a 'lighter' leg to lift up and over the tub wall while getting in and out. Horizontal bars are best for pulling from a seated or low position

Pulling downward on a horizontal bar allows someone sitting on a bench or down in the tub to pull directly up with no worry's that their hand will slip down a diagonally placed bar.

vertical placement Vertical grab bar placement for home health physical therapy bathroom safety
Vertical placement is best for stepping in our out of the tub. If balance is a great issue than strength, the push - pull aspect of a vertically positioned bar caters to balance issues more than strength although strength issues are not totally left out.

Vertical placement especially meets the weakness that one might have standing up from a bench or chair in the shower. (Remember that you can adjust that bench up and down!). Although diagonal bars can meet the initial phase of sit to stand, it is much easier to pull on a vertical bar to stand, than on a diagonal or horizontally placed one.

older bathtubs with limited wall space
floor to ceiling grab bar placement for home health care physical therapy bathroom safety Older tubs may be fitted next to one or two walls as depicted in the picture below. They may also be free standing and away from a wall. In this case or others that you may have, you may consider extending a vertical metal pole from the floor to the ceiling. This provides support for stepping in and out of the tub as well as assistance on some pulling from a seated position. It can also be used to stabilize balance while getting undressed, drying or adjusting the water temp.

If using a regular metal bar, keep in mind that there will likely not be any textured section of it to provide for better grip.


Depending on your specific needs, grab bars have their placement advantages. They are also very flexible and mobile although once your holes are drilled they are drilled. The suction cup option could be used as a 'tester' to see where you want to permanently place a permanent one.

They are a relatively inexpensive way to start before diving into bigger and spendier remodelling efforts such as walk in bathtubs or a walk in shower. The suction cup option offer the greatest temporary or permanent fix to the problem of stability with the only exception that they have some strength limits when compared to a one installed into the studs of your wall.

Hey! Grab bars can be re-used so even if you try this route first and decide that you do need to remodel, you can save them for that. At the least, use them as a towel rack close to the toilet and double into something to assist in getting on and off the toilet!


How To Decide Which Bar To Get

Walk In Tub Purchasing Options

How Much Do Walk In Tubs Cost?

Additonal Side Bar Support For Tub Transfers

Consider home safety before your physical therapy equipment purchase.

Gait Belts Save Lives In The Bathroom!

More Home Health Physical Therapy Equipment

Easiest Proven Way To Get Off the Toilet!

What Bedside Commodes Fits Your Needs Best?

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