For people who need support getting in and out of bed, bedrails are a readily accessible and relatively inexpensive option. Commercially available bed rails are usually made in an L shape, with the horizontal side of the L fitting under the mattress and the vertical used for support.
However, these bed rails usually measure about 500 and 575mm in each direction and are 600mm wide, which makes them too large to take travelling. Two people with Parkinson’s disease coincidentally approached TAD at about the same time for help with this problem.
Winsome found her husband John’s bed rail awkward, for example when carrying it in a small hotel lift, and was sure there must be a way of folding it. Nicholai had a similar problem – his wife wanted to be able to pack his bed rail into a suitcase for overseas travel.
TAD volunteer Ingram Paterson was given both jobs. Like many engineers, Ingram is a collector from way back, and for the Combes’ bed rail he found two beach umbrella hinges which he’d ‘bought at a fete for about 50 cents each 20 years ago’.
He cut off the corners of the bed rail and fitted the ends into the sleeves of the hinge and pop-rivetted them in place. To fold the frame, Winsome has only to loosen the adjustable knobs on the umbrella hinges.
To make the bed rail narrower so it would fit in a suitcase, Ingram cut two 220mm sections from the middle of the bed rail, then rejoined it by inserting a rod and rivetting the cut ends together.
To allow the L to be dismantled, Ingram made couplings from aluminium blocks and tubular inserts which fit into the ends of the frame. The vertical part of the frame is pop-rivetted in place, and the frame base is reconnected to the coupling when they need to reassemble the bed rail.
Each side of the base frame has two aluminium rods pop-rivetted into the tube and threaded to act as a nut. The frame is held together using a pair of threaded rods on which tri-nuts are locked. The threaded rods are easily unscrewed using the tri-nuts and removed when the bedrail needs to be disassembled.