CRT Technology Showcase

RazBari: Reimagining Bariatric Commode Chairs

Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) success often depends on a product’s ability to accommodate the needs of a particular client.

Mobile shower commode chairs aren’t always a highly customizable category of CRT, and in the bariatric space, even fewer choices have been available. But Raz Design’s new bariatric line could have you rethinking what to expect from commode chairs.

Introducing the RazBari Line

RAZ-AT600 by Raz Design

Raz Design’s RAZ-AT600

The new RazBari lineup features the Raz-AP600 (Attendant Propel); the Raz-AT600 (Attendant Tilt); and the Raz-SP600 (Self-Propel), all with 600-lb. weight capacities. David Harding, CEO of Raz Design, explained the line’s ambitious goals.

“We wanted to develop a bariatric tilt chair that didn’t use a powered linear actuator, which is the easy way to put somebody who weighs 600 lbs. in and out of tilt,” he said. “The more [equipment] that needs to be charged in hospitals, the more difficult it is. It’s okay for stuff that gets used every day, like patient lifts; they’ve got automatic charging to make sure it’s charged when needed.

“But they may not need a bariatric chair in a hospital for three months. And then all of a sudden, two patients need it. Nobody’s going to remember to keep it charged when it’s only used intermittently. So that was the number one thing we wanted to address.”

Raz’s Weight Assist Spring System (WASS) uses gas struts and coil springs to counterbalance the user’s weight and reduce the caregiver effort needed to tilt. No charging is needed.

The Raz team also wanted the RazBari line to accommodate a range of body types. “We wanted to have a chair that was modular,” Harding said. “Because in the bariatric category, it can be anyone from a muscular football player who weighs 400 lbs. to someone who is 5'2" and weighs 400 lbs. We needed a huge amount of flexibility to accommodate various body sizes.”

Tilting Techniques

Tilting is critical to efficient transfers for this client group, Harding added: “When you transfer with any kind of lift, whether it’s a ceiling lift or a mobile lift, the center of mass pulls the person into a tilted position in the sling. You can’t get somebody at 90°/90° to the floor. They just hang in a tilted position, so dropping them onto a seat that is flat typically perches them on the front of the seat.

“If you can drop them into a chair that’s tilted, they can be dropped into the back of that seat. To readjust their position, sliding them back down a slope 2" or 3" versus trying to pull them back on a level seat is much easier to do.”

RazBari chairs can adjust to better distribute a user’s weight. “We can change where the weight is located, the center of mass of the individual relative to the wheelbase,” Harding said. “Our backrest can be adjusted fore/aft. We have sling upholstery with an adjustable strap, so we can move them back a few inches that way.”

While the standard weight capacity of RazBari chairs is 600 lbs., the Raz Design team can accommodate higher weights. “We do a lot of custom frames, as well,” Harding said. “We make longer seat frames, longer base frames.” At maximum tilt (25° posterior), a standard RazBari chair is 52" long, or 42" long at 0° tilt.

Improving the Seating & Mobility Clinician’s Experience

Emma Friesen, Ph.D., Clinical Director at Raz Design, said many RazBari features were born of comments from clinicians, end users, and funding sources. “One piece of feedback we had received for this particular product category is it’s often quite stressful for a clinician to do a custom order because there are so few opportunities to trial the product and so many things that are hard to identify,” Friesen said. “It’s easy for things to go wrong.”

Customizability is great for finetuning a chair’s fit, but can be complex for time-strapped clinicians. “As we relaunched this range, we expanded our standard offerings,” Friesen noted. “We now have [seat] widths that we consider standard: 22", 24", 26", 28" and 30" wide chairs. And from there, all of the options and accessories that we have are part of our standard offerings. From the perspective of understanding what options are available and making it easy to configure, the big benefit of our range now is that so much of it is just standard equipment. I think it takes some of the stress out, because it makes it much easier to say, ‘This is what I’m getting and this is how it’s going to be configured.’”

bariatric commode chair by Raz Design

In true CRT fashion, Friesen added, “Even though we’ve configured our chair to be sized correctly and configured correctly for a specific user, there is still a lot of adjustment to allow it to be fine tuned and individualized even further. That takes some of the guesswork off the clinicians because they know even if they order what looks on paper like a specialized chair, it still has a lot of adjustment. And if we still can’t get it to work right even with that adjustment, the chairs are modular, which usually means we can swap in another part or another option, and it will work for a particular client.”

The end result is a system “that works for that individual, and that’s taking into account their seating, their functioning, their skin, their positioning and their comfort,” Friesen said. “We can offer this enormous range of products and accessories that can be individualized, but still have a lot of options if we need to fine-tune it to a user later on.”

And for clients, that can be empowering. “As we talk about people with larger bodies, there can be a whole lot of issues around loss of independence, where they can’t do a lot of tasks on their own,” Friesen said. “Part of the comfort factor may be that they want to be able to transfer independently or with minimal assistance from someone else. We can help by configuring a chair that has different options and accessories that facilitate that so they are motivated and they have ownership of getting the equipment and also using it on a daily basis.”