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4 Common Categories of Durable Medical Equipment

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4 Common Categories of Durable Medical Equipment

Photo (c) Medline

Caregivers and patients use Durable Medical Equipment (DME) in intensive care, acute care, outpatient care, rehabilitation hospitals and outpatient facilities, as well as long-term care, nursing homes, and skilled nursing facilities. These products are built and tested to be strong, long-lasting, and generally easy to clean and maintain. Perhaps one of the primary responsibilities of DME is to keep the user and the caregiver safe. Wheelchairs, transfer aids, bath safety, and walking aids are among the largest categories of DME.

Wheelchairs

Types:

  • Standard Wheelchairs: These wheelchairs have 24-inch rear wheels, and range in price from $150 to $800.

  • Transport Wheelchairs: These are wheelchairs with 8-inch rear wheels, and range in price from $150 to $800. Transport wheelchairs fold easier than their Standard counterparts, making them easier to store and transport. The smaller wheels also make them lighter to carry.

  • Hybrid Wheelchairs: Some wheelchairs can change between Standard and Transport usually by changing the rear wheels using a quick-release mechanism.

  • Added-Feature Options: Some wheelchairs can be equipped with seat belts, cup holders, pockets for storage, built-in antimicrobial properties, bariatric widths and weight-capacities, removable arms, and reclining backs.

Transfer Aids

Types:

  • Gait/Transfer Belts: These cotton belts buckle around the patient's mid-section and make it easier for caregivers to move or assist patients with less risk of back injury.

  • Transfer Benches: Transfer benches look like a seat with an extended side. They are intended to help a patient get in and out of tubs safely, and some are specified with a commode seat to improve safety when using the toilet. Some features to look for when specifying Transfer benches include height-adjustable legs, suction cups or rubber caps on the feet to prevent the bench from slipping, and a side arm for stability and leverage. Some benches also come with a padded seat option for long-term comfort.

  • Transfer Boards: Transfer boards are often made of either wood or PVC. They work like a slide or a bridge from either a wheelchair to a bed, or a wheelchair to the commode. The board defends against back injury because the caregiver is able to slide the patient across the board supporting the patient's weight.

  • Transfer Mats: Transfer mats work by placing one side of the mat under the patient when they are lying in a bed or sitting in a chair, and placing the other side of the mat in the intended location. The patient is then pushed or pulled by the caregiver along the mat, which allows the body to slide easily from one side of the mat to the destination side of the mat.

Bath Safety

Types:

  • Handheld Showers: Anyone using a transfer bench to get in and out of the tub should also consider using a handheld shower. The hose of the handheld shower can be specified to be in the 6' and 7' range in length so that it can be used while seated on the bench or shower chair.

  • Shower Chairs: Shower chairs are a suitable aid for bathing when a person is not able to stand up in the shower long enough to wash. Key features are non-skid feet on the chair, along with rust-proof material such as PVC or aluminum. Some shower chairs have a mesh pouch built in for storage of personal items. Reclining shower chairs with footrests, and shower gurneys, provide alternate possibilities for those who need such features.

  • Bathroom Grab Bars and Assist Bars: These products can be clamped to the side of a tub or wall-mounted. Grab and Assist Bars are meant to help keep some steady, and may not support the weight of a person as they fall.

  • Elevated Toilet Seats: These products are helpful to those who have difficulty bending to use the toilet. Installing an elevated toilet can help reduce the risk of a slip and fall accident in the bathroom. Elevated toilet seats clamp onto the permanent toilet, and include grab bars on each side.

Walking Aids

Types:

  • Canes: Even this basic, low-tech product can be specified with features. There are canes that support bariatric weight capacity, quad-foot base canes, foldable canes, and offset handle canes.

  • Crutches: Crutches can be manufactured to be height-adjustable, extra tall, bariatric, and child size. They are also specified as either Underarm or Forearm style crutches.

  • Walkers: Walkers can be specified either with casters or without, foldable, or non-foldable. There are also adult-sized and child-sized models.

  • Knee Walkers: Knee walkers are usually designed with 3 wheels, handle bars, a handle brake, and sometimes a basket or pouch to store a few personal items. They look like a child's toy scooter and are suitable for people with a lower leg injury. They place their knee and shin on a long pad, grab the handle bars, and push themselves forward with the healthy leg.

  • Rollators: Rollators resemble Walkers, but with 4 casters, handle bars with handbrakes, a seat for resting, and a basket to store a few items or a small grocery bag. Some are made to be foldable for storage and transport ease, with height-adjustable arms for proper fit.

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