Padded cell

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Padded cell in a psychiatric hospital

A padded cell - or Personal Safety Room - is a cell in a psychiatric hospital with cushions lining the walls. The padding is an attempt to prevent a patient from hurting themselves by hitting their head (or other bodily parts) on the hard surface of the walls. In most cases, an individual's placement in a padded cell is involuntary.

A padded cell is sometimes colloquially known as a "rubber room", seclusion room, time out room, calming room, personal safety room among others.[1]


Most padded cells or "Personal Safety Rooms" are the same size as a single room, about 3 metres (10 ft) from front to back and about 2.4 m (8 ft) wide, and are designed for short-term, single occupancy.[citation needed] The walls and floor are covered with padding, which is typically 10 cm (4 in) in thickness.[citation needed] The walls are usually covered with cork-crumb-filled pouches made of strong canvas or leather, which is then covered with rubberized paint.[citation needed] The padded floor is covered in leather and the door to the cell is commonly made of very strong wood or wood reinforced with steel. The door, also padded on the inside, may have an observation port which allows supervising medical staff to have a full, uninterrupted view of the room and its occupant.[citation needed] The door has no knob or handle on the inside, and is typically secured by a strong lock which can only be opened from the outside by authorized personnel.[citation needed]


The length of time patients were kept in a padded cell would vary greatly.[citation needed] Sometimes patients could remain locked in one for several days.[citation needed] A patient might also be made to wear a straitjacket if they were considered a risk of self-harm.[citation needed]

The use of padded cells and straitjackets fell dramatically following the introduction of psychotropic drugs in the 1950s.[citation needed] Personal Safety Rooms are still used throughout the world and can be beneficial in providing a safe environment for not only occupants but staff and can prevent work-related injuries in the facilities.[citation needed]

A reconstructed padded cell is maintained at the Stephen Beaumont Museum, Fieldhead Hospital, Wakefield, UK.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "rubber room" definition from Double-Tongued Dictionary

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