Why Use Grab Bars?

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. June 15, 2016

Why Use Grab Bars?

Many falls are preventable. Falls happen when people lose their balance and cannot support their body weight. Often, they either slip or trip. The National Safety Council notes that – during any given week – more than 30,000 Americans over the age of 65 are seriously injured by falling, and the majority of those falls occur at home.

It is not just seniors who are susceptible to falls. In fact, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, unintentional falls were the leading cause of nonfatal injuries treated in hospital emergency departments for eight of the ten age groups in 2013 (see below). It was the second leading cause for the 10-14 and 15-24 year age groups. Regardless of one’s age, grab bars and other fall prevention devices can be a useful addition in all homes. Anyone of any age can fall and require hospital treatment – such as nearly 9 million people across all age groups in the United States in 2013!

Many accidents occur in the bathroom where the floor is smooth and becomes wet during bathing. Falls are particularly prevalent when moving into or out of the tub or shower or onto or off the toilet. Falls are exacerbated when a person has a disability, particularly when his or her mobility and flexibility is limited.

A grab bar is a tubular, elongated device designed to support at least 250 pounds of weight. It is imperative that it be firmly anchored where it will help support a person as he or he she moves laterally or vertically. With both hands free and loose obstructions out of the way, a person holds onto the grab bar as he or she moves carefully to a desired location.

Grab bars can increase a home’s accessibility and improve its occupants’ personal safety and sense of security. When combined with other modifications that allow basic wheelchair accessibility on the ground level of a home, then you have made your home “visitable.” As a principle of universal design, the concept of visitability is to provide accessibility to all occupants or guests in your home. Grab bars are essential components to improving a home’s visitability. For more information on visitabilty see http://www.concretechange.org/.

Grab bars are required to be used in certain public spaces and buildings; while wall reinforcements for grab bars are required in covered multi-family dwellings. For additional information about the standards and guidelines for grab bars and wall reinforcements refer to our blog on ADA Guidelines.

Check out our other blogs as we cover a variety of topics related to selecting the proper grab bars for your needs and installing and using them correctly.


Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.