Gravity is keeping me down.
July 20, 2010 12:18 PM   Subscribe

I need low tech ideas to get my butt in/out of a hot tub.

I hate the idea of spending more for a pool/spa lift than the spa itself to get my ass in and out of my sister's hot tub. So I am looking for low tech / low cost ideas to solve the problem of getting into and out of the hot tub. My arms are weak so I cannot use them for any sort of self-lifting or boosting. I would usually have one person to assist me and this is preferable to having two people. Interested in ideas for platforms, pulleys, inflatables, ramps, hoists, or some other non-obvious solution.

I weigh 200 lbs and would be transferring from a wheelchair.

Preferably it would cost less than $500 to implement.

Getting in and getting out do not have to utilize the same mechanism.

The tub is above ground and the sides are about 40 inches high. It rests on a concrete slab.

Open to any/all suggestions. Let's brainstorm.
posted by thorny to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total)
Do you have any mobility or weight-bearing capacity in your legs or lower body? For example, could you stand briefly to transfer into a sling or seat of some sort, or must your full weight be borne by assistive devices at all times?
posted by KathrynT at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2010

Sorry, when you say you can't use your arms for any self-lifting/boosting, does that mean you can't use them at all, or just for lifting your self up? Like, if there were some sort of counterweight pulley system that required you to pull, would you be able to do that?
posted by Think_Long at 12:22 PM on July 20, 2010

High ramp on one side, low ramp on the other.
posted by unixrat at 12:37 PM on July 20, 2010

It would probably depend on how wet you could get the chair, and how much you're able to support yourself upright. Could you at least hang on to something so it would be easier for you to pivot?

To get in, at least, you could roll the chair up a ramp until the seat is at the level of the hot tub, and then transfer onto the side of the tub. From there you could plop in (very gracefully, I'm sure) or use something else to slide in.

So: build a box platform and use those temporary ramp thingies to save space, or else just build a box platform attached to a ramp.

Getting out, of course, is the fun part! However, once you got back up to the level of the already-boosted chair (and the side of the tub), transferring back would probably not be so hard. Could you use some sort of ratcheting rope system like climbers use? Maybe you couldn't pull, but your assistant could.
posted by Madamina at 1:38 PM on July 20, 2010

There wouldn't happen to be a thick tree branch above the edge of the tub, would there?
posted by fritley at 1:54 PM on July 20, 2010

Ooh, ooh. Here's a crazy idea. I was thinking about this guy, and the idea of a litter/stretcher made me get this going.

So you build some sort of pivoting, tiltable base that is a smidge taller than the tub. On top of that, you have a litter-looking thing that pivots. It could serve as both lift and ramp.

Having something tiltable would lessen the amount that your assistant might have to pull you up, particularly if you use counterweights off of the back of said ramp/litter thing. You would probably want to be tied in or supported somehow so you don't fall off (if that kind of thing is an issue). Maybe it could have supports under your arms or a chest harness.

I am (if you haven't guessed) not actually an engineer, but here are my extremely detailed schematics.
posted by Madamina at 2:12 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you got a suitable hard point above the pool you could attach a hoist to? That would be the easiest way - then you could have a block and tackle attached. You could use a swing-type seat - position it alongside or in front of the wheelchair and slide across, then your assistant could hoist you up. You could probably do that pretty cheaply with mechanic's kit, rather than disability aids.

It gets a bit harder if you can't fasten overhead. One option (not entirely dignified perhaps) might be something like a free standing engine hoist. You'd need to ring up a seat it could fasten to - perhaps something like the s70 on this page.

Anyway, I have no qualifications in engineering or anything useful and a prudent person would get anything that was going to pick them up checked by someone who was first! Just by 2p worth - good luck!
posted by prentiz at 2:14 PM on July 20, 2010

Not pretty, but have had clients do this:

Engine mount crane with a sling.
posted by dripped at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2010

Is there a thrift or consignment store in your area where people take their nice medical equipment? In my area it's the thrift store run by a hospice; the hospice does good work and a lot of people donate to them to try to help them in return. A lot of what they get is unused or barely used. The last time I was in there, I saw two medical lifts, both significantly less than $500. So you might be able to find something purpose-designed for this, but still in your budget.
posted by galadriel at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: I can bear some weight on my legs but not enough to stand. My up/down transfer range is about 3 inches if I scoot sideways.

I can use my arms, I just cannot bear my body weight with them. For example I have friends with regular upper bodies who can push or pull themselves out of the bathtub using their arms. That's not possible for me.
posted by thorny at 4:19 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: Some great suggestions thus far. I had thought about an engine hoist, however there is no clearance under the tub to push the wheels beneath it. We may be able to adjust that however.

There is unfortunately no tree nearby. I had thought of using some sort of hoist attached to a rolling clothes rack that could at least span a corner of the tub. The hoist could pick me up from my chair and then the rack could be rolled over the tub, and the hoist could drop me down...
posted by thorny at 4:26 PM on July 20, 2010

Alternate to the engine mount is a truck hoist .

Then just becomes a matter of fastening it down. Drilled into concrete, or reinforced deck, or have even seen a sonotube drilled into the ground, with a base jig concreted in that the hoist can be bolted to.

This is of course a much cheaper version of the real thing
posted by dripped at 4:50 PM on July 20, 2010

or use a hoist, but install the crane 180 degrees, and counterweight the legs with a bunch of weight. That way it could still roll, and lift you out...just need enough weight on the cantilever.
posted by dripped at 4:52 PM on July 20, 2010

If the tub has corners, you could perhaps just use a hoist with legs that telescope to a decent width.
posted by flabdablet at 5:01 PM on July 20, 2010

Invacare makes a hydraulic lift that might work. has a variety of lifts, including Invacare.
posted by JayRwv at 5:26 PM on July 20, 2010

Something like the $99 electric hoist mounted on either this support arm, or perhaps mounted on a trolley that spans the hot tub. You could even make a structural arbor out of wood that would be fairly attractive.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:37 PM on July 20, 2010

If you go looking for the equipment in used medical supply stores, in addition to Invacare you should also look for Hoyer Lift. Active Forever has new one for $600, so used would likely be less. It has those legs which might not work underneath the pool, so you'd have to think about that - how far will the pivot go? If you will be using this spa a lot and your sister is ok with it - could you mount something like this in a block of concrete and leave it permanently attached near the spa?
posted by CathyG at 11:50 AM on July 21, 2010

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