International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation


Here are the main types of beds used in rehabilitation :

air bed : A bed with an air-filled mattress.

air-fluidized bed : A bed whose mattress consists of small ceramic beads, about 0.1 mm in diameter but in such number (hundreds of millions) as to form a layer of about 30 cm. They are suspended by a stream of warm air and covered by a polyester sheet on which the patient floats. Used for the treatment and prevention of decubitus ulcers.

Arnott bed : A water bed devised by Neil Arnott (1788-1874), Scottish physician, and used in the treatment of bedsores.

CircOlectric® bed : Proprietary name of a bed in which the mattress can be turned around its transverse axis together with the patient. It can be operated electrically by the patient or by an attendant. Dveloped in 1960 by Michigan orthopedic surgeon Homer H. Stryker (1894-1980).

Emerson rocking bed : A bed that rocks back and forth by electric power , providing mechanical assistance to the diaphragm of a patient with respiratory paralysis. Developed in 1953 by John H. Emerson Co., Cambridge, Massachusetts.

fracture bed : A bed with an overhead frame and attachments for traction, suspension, and other procedures; used primarily in the treatment of patients with fractures. A board under the mattress prevents its sagging and conseuqnet displacement of a fractured spine or limb.

Gatch bed : A bed in which the support of the mattress is made of three parts that can be operated seperately, permitting various positions of the trunk, thighs, and legs. Introduced in 1909 by Willis Dew Gatch (1879-1961), US surgeon.

high-low bed : A bed whose mattress can be raised or lowered thanks to a mechanical actuation (using a hand or of a foot) or electric. Certain beds with electric actuation can be operated by their occupant.

oscillating bed : A bed that oscillates either around its transverse axis, i.e., a rocking bed, or around its longitudinal axis, i.e., a rolling bed.

rocking bed : A bed that oscillates around its transverse axis.

rolling bed :

  1. A bed on rollers or wheels.
  2. A bed that oscillates slowly around its longitudinal axis, completing one side-to-side motion in four minutes or more. Designed to prevent prolonged pressure on any are of the bedfast patient .

RoyalAire® bed : Proprietary name of an air-fluidized bed. Developed originally in the UK in the late 1960s.

Sanders oscillating bed : Rocking bed that moves slowly around a transverse axis through an arc of 60°; gravity thus aids in the draining and filling of the vessels of the lower limbs and in the respiratory motions of the diaphragm. Proposed in 1936 for the treatment of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases by Kansas City, Kansas, physician Clarence Elmer Sanders (1885-1949).

turning bed : One of the several types of beds in which the patient can be turned together with the mattress.

water bed : A bed with a water-filled mattress of rubber or similar material. It is used for the treatment or prevention of decubitus ulcers or for relaxation.


Eisenberg MG. 1995. Dictionary of Rehabilitation. New York: Springer Publishing Company. 375 p. Used with permission.

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