Smart grab bars: a potential initiative to encourage bath grab bar use in community dwelling older adults

Assist Technol. 2013 Fall;25(3):139-48. doi: 10.1080/10400435.2012.732654.


Grab bars are often prescribed to ensure safe and independent bathing and toileting. Studies have shown that seniors do not always use grab bars when they are present or are reluctant to install them due to the associated stigma. This study sought to determine if artificial intelligence could increase grab bar use by seniors and to determine the efficacy of different cues (auditory, visual, and audiovisual combination) on the frequency of use of a grab bar. Sixty-nine healthy participants aged 60 to 86 years (average 68.7 years) were randomly assigned to three subgroups. Each subgroup tested two different cueing conditions: the no cue and one of three cued conditions (visual, auditory, or combined audio-visual). Results suggest that the smart grab increased seniors' grab bars use by 39% and that the effect was maintained after removal of the cues. Participants preferred the visual cue but the auditory cue was the most powerful. Results suggest that artificial intelligence may be an interesting avenue to increase grab bar use in community-dwelling older adults and in people requiring supervision to use grab bars on a regular basis to decrease the risk of falls during bathing or bathtub transfers.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Baths*
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Self-Help Devices* / statistics & numerical data