The client, a man in his early 70s, has a rare late-onset progressive muscle disorder (inclusion-body myositis). He currently is wheelchair dependent and relies on a full function powered (“Quickie”) wheelchair. He has almost no extension power in the knees but can nevertheless make standing transfers between his elevating bed, his elevating wheelchair, and his elevating armchair, which are all electrically powered. Any seat he transfers from must therefore be high enough that his knees are fully extended as soon as his heels contact the floor, before weightbearing . This transfer method obviously does not allow for bathing or showering using a fixed-height shower chair. The layout of his house does not allow for hoisting. However, he has a wet-room shower, which he was able to use until recent years. He was therefore keen to acquire a rise-and-fall wheeled shower chair which could be added to his usable seating and re-enable showering.
So far as I could discover, there are no such shower chairs on the market. Electrical chairlifts seem unlikely to be suitable for use in a shower. After some consideration and online searching, it seemed to me that a small (130Kg capacity) motorcycle lift platform could be installed in the under-seat space of a wheeled shower commode chair.
The commode seat and bowl are removed from the chair, and the wheels are removed from the legs of the hydraulic motorcycle lift. The lift is securely mounted in the chair interior, and the showering seat attached onto the lift platform. There are minor modifications (for accessibility) to the lift pump operating pedal and the release valve rod. An assistant or carer works the foot-operated lift and the release valve during transfers.
Shower chair with seat set in the elevated position, ready for making a standing transfer back into the lowered wheelchair. Again, the footrests would be folded for the actual transfer.
Figure 3. Motorcycle lift in ‘down’ position
Figure 4. Motorcycle lift in process of being installed in shower chair
The client is now again able to take a shower in his wet-room, after having been, for the last several years, reliant on assisted sponge washing. The gains are seen in personal hygiene and dignity. He can work the shower controls himself. However, he will not be fully independent in shower access, because he cannot self-propel any manual wheelchair.