Bath question: My young adult son has ataxia, he... - Ataxia UK

Ataxia UK
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Bath question


My young adult son has ataxia, he is wobbly on his feet. We are doing up our bathroom and I am wondering whether to have bath with handles or without. What are your baths like or do u prefer using shower.

For the time being we haven't put in any adaptation, we only hire wheelchairs occasionally but we are aware we will need some in the future.

If you have bath handles, do they get in the way when getting in/out of the bath?

Is it better to have grab rail on the wall?

22 Replies

We did up our bathroom a few years ago.

We have a bath with handles already fitted to the side of the bath. We do not find these a nuisance.

We also have a shower above the bath because we do not have room for a separate shower.

We fitted a grab rail on the wall, making getting in and out safe.

We did think about having a wet room, which is more practical but I love a bath because it helps to ease my symptoms. Maybe in the future we will have to … who knows?

I wish I'd got handles on my bath, it would definatley help me. I have a seperate shower and can no longer use it.

I have an OT coming in a couple of weeks and am hoping she'll recommend a bath lift. Iam a hazard in the bath and need help to get out, I can just about get in at the moment. I think handles on a bath are a must and I don't think they will get in the way.

A grab rail is a good idea but the way my bath is wouldn't help me. You could get a shower over the bath and use a bath board then your son could sit on the board and wash himself then you could help him out but get handles on the bath.


We have a bath with handles already set in. I use these, baths without them are dangerous for me. The handles do not get in the way but I find a bath that narrows in the centre is annoyingly too narrow and I'm smallish. I'm not safe in a shower as if my head tips, the rest of me can follow but my balance centre is not working, may be different for your son.

Thank you, all very good comments.

Do any of you have a non slip bath surface - if so, is it ok? Is it easy to clean?

Or should I just use some stickers?

Our current bath has "nobly" surface but I wouldn't quite call it non slip.

in reply to AnnaSurrey

We have a knobbly surface on the base of our bath. I make sure that any left over soap/shampoo from previous use is cleaned off before getting in.

What kind of Ataxia he has, can u refer me what to do when u r wobbly on ur feet.

we have anti mold mat in the bath

Hi Anna,

If your son is still at school ask the occupational therapist (OT) to assess him. If there isn't one at school get in touch with social services for an OT to assess. They will take into consideration the stage your son is at and plan ahead...some bath aids may be impeded by bath handles. The OT will be able to look at how your son transfers in/out at the moment and help you all plan. This could also save you money!

Good luck!

I took my bath ou and rplaced it with a big shower and a seat. although i enjoyed an emersion bath it it was difficult getting in but much more getting out. I have a grab bar on the wall and a seat wich i move closer to the tap for me and out of the way for the rest of the family and showering has become easy and safe. It works great for me.

best wishes Isabel

I used to have a bath, a year ago, but found I had trouble getting in and out. The new place we moved to, has a wet room, its a change from having a bath everyday for 59 years, but needs must, and now have a shower everyday. Its one of life's comprises.... bath/shower/health/safety (when on your own)

I have a bath with handles, cant use a bath now, I would get a walk in shower, not only will this be easier for your son, but for yourself too.

aNNA, I AM ataxian/eczema sufferer. My social worker told me, fist sign of YOU CANNOT STEP UP TO THE BATH, ring me, I am putting you on the list of a walking in shower, as it take 18 months to qualify for it...I AM ENOUGH MOBILE TO GET SAFELY INAND OUT USING A GRABRAIL ON THE WALL, ANTI-SLIP MAT.Once a month I REQUIRE THE BATH FOR MY ECZEMA, just get all old skin nice and one day WHEN MY MOBILITY WORSENS, will have to scarify the bath itself and have re built the bathroom according to my technically speaking, I am fine with a any case have both, smaller ones aside the bath plus a grabrail on the wall...that gives you safety when in the bath for your son and also supporting his balance when he attempts to get up SAFELY.

I would see if you can get a OT over to the house and help you figure out what is best for your son’s future needs and what would work for the layout of your bathroom. You may even want to consider replacing your tub with a shower with roll in capability.

Thank u all.

I have a shower. I can only say by guessing or logic thinking that maybe put some adaptation for him so he can get in the bath safely -this is my opinion only


I have grab bars on th walls of my bath and shower. I also have a built in seat in the shower. I do no use a wheelchair, just a cane and walker. I have episodic Ataxia.

If you’re son uses a wheelchair, you might want to convert the shower to a roll in shower.

Good luck.

Definitely go down the shower route (and I say this as someone who LOVED baths). Even better would be a wetroom.

You might have to go down this route anyway eventually (as your son's ataxia progresses), so this is "future-proofing" any changes that you make now.

Also, definitely install at least one grab-rail (possibly two - one on each wall if possible).

Fatigue is the problem for me now (and not the balance-impairment that I was expecting - although this gets worse too over time too, but it's irrelevant now in this case).


SCA (idiopathic). Diagnosed 2015.


Hello anna Surrey,

I tried, and had a bath a few weeks ago and had terrible trouble getting out, I MADE IT UNAIDED. My shower, which I normally use, is far easier and can easily cope with aplastic chair for my use which is much easier I recommend horizontal handrails and a 3' x 3'-6 Shower base.

Thank u, will add grab rails in the shower, it's not going to be a wetroom, just a low tray.

I have two handles and a bath board which I sit on

Hi Anne, I'd go with a shower if I were you,before you know he wont be able to use a bath,I took my bath out about 20yrs ago (wetroom)

best decision, you really have to think ahead with Ataxia.

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