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What Are the Types of Bed Rails?

The two main types of bed rails are adjustable bed rails and hospital bed rails. Within this general categorization, however, there are also multiple types of adjustable bed rails, including those with legs and those without. The sheer variety of bed rails on the market can make it hard for consumers to choose the best one for their loved one, but it might help buyers to know there are only a few styles that can be defined as medical bed rails.

Bed rails can greatly benefit the senior who has difficulty getting into or out of bed. They can also prevent seniors — particularly those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia–from accidentally rolling out of bed at night.

Adjustable vs. Hospital Bed Rails 

While both types of bed rails serve the same function of preventing seniors from falling out of bed, hospital bed rails are not usually removed from the bed once they are secured to the bed’s frame. Adjustable bed rails, also known as portable bed rails, are easily removed from the bed and can be adjusted to fit a variety of bed styles. Because they have such a wide range of uses outside of providing medical assistance, portable bed rails are not considered medical equipment by Medicare, leaving seniors to pay out-of-pocket for their bed rails. On the other hand, hospital bed rails are only compatible with standard or adjustable hospital beds and are thus defined as medical equipment.

Adjustable Bed Rails and Uses

There are two general types of adjustable bed rails used by seniors: those with support legs and those without. Bed rails that have legs (or feet) that connect the rails to the floor provide more stability for seniors who need assistance getting out of bed. These bed rails often slip in between the bed frame and mattress and are strapped to the frame in order to provide additional support. On the other hand, bed rails without legs are designed to be smaller, lighter and easier to transport. These bed rails simply slide in between a bed frame and mattress and are best utilized for seniors who need less assistance to get out of bed. These bed rails are also effective at keeping seniors from moving too close to the edge of the bed, without making them feel like they are trapped in bed.

On the other hand, hospital bed rails are designed specifically for use on hospital beds. Once affixed to the bed, they usually remain there permanently. Because of this, and because hospital beds are covered by Medicare Part B, hospital bed rails are also eligible for coverage through Medicare’s DME program.