Monday, April 28, 2014

Bentley Baths

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We were invited to look at a home modification showroom today to look at handicapped accessible bathroom products.   We are starting to have challenges for Noah's bath time, so it was nice to see what options exist out there for those with disabilities.    Noah really lacks an adequate bath chair that works for him.   I've never liked his Manatee by Snug Seat because it raises Noah really far out of the tub, and he can't be submerged like other children his age.  He gets goosebumps because all he can experience is water being poured over him.  Noah also isn't a big fan of it, compared to the baby tubs and high chair I rigged for him, but he's just out grown all other options.  There is a bath seat I've had my eye on for some time from Specialized Orthotic Services, but they are based in the UK and unwilling to ship the product or even discuss price with a US resident.  

Bentley Bath with outward facing door
We looked at Bentley Baths today, more specifically hydrotherapy tubs.  I learned a lot more today than I ever realized about handicapped accessible bath tubs.  The most important part being the health benefits that they provide for those with disabilities.  Hydrotherapy has really been around for thousands of years and has medical benefits for the lymphatic system.  Ancient cultures in China, Japan and Greece were among the first to develop hydrotherapy.   During the 18th and 19th centuries European physicians  studied the science of water therapy for "cures."  Hydrotherapy was a common treatment at the time for a host of illnesses, including pneumonia, anxiety and back pain.  Since that time Hydrotherapy has expanded to assist with the relieving of toxins that cause pain and inflammation, relaxation of muscles, relieving pressure of joints and bones, cleanses organs and detoxifies body tissues.    These are just some of the benefits to Hydrotherapy tubs:

  • Insomnia and Stress: The National Sleep Foundation recommends taking a warm bath a few hours before bedtime to enhance sleep quality.  Hydrotherapy is an effective natural sleep aid that helps the body relax and unwind, leading to a higher quality of sleep.
  • Circulatory System: The heat and massage action of hydrotherapy help blood flow more easily, thus relieving tension headaches and soothing stress-prone areas like the neck, shoulders and lower back.
  • Muscular and Skeletal Systems: Sore muscles, lower back pain, aching joints – all stand to benefit from the heated water massage of hydrotherapy.
  • Respiratory System: The moist heat associated with hydrotherapy is often beneficial to those suffering from respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, congestion and asthma.
  • Digestive and Immune Systems: Improved circulation results in a more effective digestive progress. Wastes and other toxins are more easily eliminated, and lymph is moved more efficiently through the body, strengthening the immune system.
Full Door Opening Tub

Now if you have a child with special needs this all sounds like an in-home dream come true.  And it really kind of is - except for the price tag.  Most hydrotherapy walk-in tubs start around $7-8,000.  Now if you haven't fainted yet, there is some hope for funding.  Some Medicaid waivers in various states will assist with the costs of a handicapped accessible bathroom, there are also some local foundations that will step in to assist based on need, and then sometimes there is the good old hard way of fundraising.    Of course funding of any kind will need to be accompanied with a doctor's recommendation and an Occupational Therapist Evaluation.   

We looked at a model for Noah that we are interested in, with a full door that would swing open towards us, not inward, and would have spots for a Hoyer Lift System to slide underneath it for transfers when Noah got older and too heavy for us to lift.  (Yes as special needs parents you have to kind of plan into the future knowing that with each growing year it will get harder and harder to lift Noah).   We also are exploring some custom options like whether it's possible to have a built in abductor, railings, and five-point harness, and headrest all attached to the tub itself - really a completely custom tub for Noah.    I'm sure that customizing a tub will only skyrocket the potential costs.  I didn't want to even go there yet.
Door that opens inwards with seated grove

We were able to see the jets in action to determine if sensory wise it would be something Noah liked.  And he was delighted by it squealing, laughing and watching this big ducky swim in the simulated tub.  He even loved it when the jets were clearing the line, something all the hydrotherapy tubs do about 30 minutes after they are drained (Note: It could freak you out a bit if you weren't expecting it).  And you'd think it would take forever to fill a tub like this, but it both fills and drains in 3-5 minutes.   Some of the tub designs have a grove in the seat.  I should have known what it was for being a certified CNA, but I asked anyway.  It is designed to clean the undercarriage of those who need assistance doing so without having to lift them up from a seated position.  A feature I don't think Noah would need at this age, but something I am glad to know exists for others who need it.
Simulated Tub with Duckie

I'm trying not to get too excited about the idea, as I'm quite familiar with things just not working out, and we haven't even yet secured funding or confirmed yet if it's going to really be possible to customize this tub so it has a built in harness.  So I hate to put the horse before the wagon and dream too big and then be let down when I can't obtain it for Noah.

But I can tell you that I was very impressed with the design of Bentley Baths, and with the customer service from the representatives from In-Power who invited us.   Now if you're shocked about the price of the tub, then maybe I should wait to tell you the total cost of a handicapped accessible bathroom.  It just might keep you up at night and give you nightmares.   If only these things could be cheaper and there were more resources than there is.   But I have faith that where there is a will there is a way.  So we continue to march forward with the belief that what feels impossible can be made possible.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.