According to the CDC, every year there are roughly 235,000 visits to the emergency room for injuries sustained in the bathroom. A third of these injuries occur when bathing or showering, meaning that, for some homeowners, the most frequently used room in their house is also the most dangerous. Homeowners with physical injuries, handicaps, or limited mobility can help manage the risk of injury in the bathroom with walk-in tubs.
Walk-in tubs differ from traditional tubs in that they are designed with a variety of features to help mitigate the risk of falls. Built-in handrails, non-slip flooring, and low step height are among the common safety features. Other situation-specific features include tubs that are designed for wheelchair users. Because they are customizable, homeowners are advised to work with bathroom remodeling contractors to choose features that accommodate their own safety needs and their home’s technical requirements.
Besides offering safety features, walk-in tubs offer therapeutic benefits. One such example comes from Medical News Today, which reports that studies show warm water improves blood flow in people with chronic heart failure. And, according to the CDC, hydrotherapy is useful in treating a wide variety of medical issues, including peptic ulcers, burns, arthritis, lesions, and amputations. Many walk-in tubs also offer massing jets, which are useful for easing muscle pain.
Fast Fill and Drain Feature
Savvy Senior suggests that homeowners considering walk-in tubs look for styles that include fast-fill and drain features. They suggest this because, to use a step-in tub, homeowners have to sit in the tub as it’s filling and draining. Some styles can take 15 minutes to fill and drain, but walk-in tubs with fast-fill and drain features can cut that time in half. They also suggest selecting a tub that includes an in-line heating system so the water stays hot throughout the whole bath.
Like any other customized item, walk-in tubs are more expensive than traditional tubs. Base prices can range from $1,000 to $5,000, not including the cost of installation. For most, this expense will come out of pocket, as Medicaid doesn’t count walk-in tubs as Durable Medical Equipment and doesn’t help pay for them. That being said, walk-in tubs often end up saving homeowners money in the long run. This is because they have many safety features rolled into one, making it unnecessary to purchase and install similar modifications one-by-one.
Other cost considerations that may run through homeowners’ minds when considering walk-in tubs is water usage. One would assume that, because they are taller, walk-in tubs take more water to fill. But because they are narrower, water usage between walk-in and standard tub styles is comparable. The average tub holds anywhere from 42 to 80 gallons, while walk-in tubs hold 50 gallons. To compare, a typical shower uses 25-40 gallons of water.
Walk-in tubs offer a variety of safety and therapeutic benefits to homeowners with medical needs or limited mobility. The cost can turn some people off, but given the benefits, in most cases, the long-term benefits outweigh the concern over cost. Those who find standard tubs to be unsuited for their needs are encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider about the benefits of hydrotherapy and a contractor about the start-to-finish costs of installation.