Physical Characteristics

Mobility

Have you ever tried to walk a straight line on a moving airplane or train, or use steps that are slip­pery with water or ice? Have you ever tried to pass through a space not big enough to accom­modate you?

Changes in mobility include body stiffness and rigidity, as well as diminished strength, stamina, balance, and range of motion, usually in the spine, legs, and/or lower body. This includes those who use a wheelchair, scooter, walker, crutches, braces, or other mobility aids. Less obvious, this group also includes those whose mobility is challenged, sometimes temporarily, by pregnancy, excess weight, cardiovascular or respiratory problems, injury, or fatigue. It also includes people who have difficulty bending or stooping.

Measurements used to plan the bathroom should include any assistive device the client uses. The wheelchair or mobility aid should be measured, just as you would document a client’s height or body breadth. Standard dimensions for a person using a mobility aid are listed in chapter 4, "Uni­versal Design and Human Factors," but in fact, each client and each mobility aid is unique. In the assessment tools in chapter 5, "Assessing Needs," you will find several diagrams to use when measuring people and their mobility aids.

Pay special attention to design concepts such as clear floor space for passage and storage of an assistive device, reach ranges, sight lines, selection of drawer pulls, supports, and controls for ease of use and safety. These and other design considerations are detailed in the section that follows.