Lifting and Transferring 

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Lifting and transferring techniques 


Serious back, shoulder, and neck injuries occur as a result of poor lifting and transferring habits. Following are some tips to reduce the strain on your back and the possibility of injuries. Protecting your back is working smarter, not harder. 
General tips for lifting and transferring

  • When lifting and transferring, the most important consideration is safety for yourself and the client.

  • Ask for help and use teamwork. Talk to your helpers about what you plan to do, and talk to each other about what you are doing as you do it.

  • When needed, use the right equipment.

  • Plan the job. Move anything that is in the path.

  • Maintain the correct posture: Keep your back straight and knees bent. If you must bend from the waist, tighten your stomach muscles while bending and lifting. Bending your knees slightly will put the stress on your legs, not your back.

  • Never twist when lifting, transferring, or reaching. Pick up your feet and pivot your whole body in the direction of the move. Move your torso as one unit. Twisting is one of the leading causes of injuries.

  • Maintain a wide base of support. Keep your feet at least shoulder-width apart or wider when lifting or moving.

  • Hold the person or object close to you, not at arm’s length. Holding things close to your body can minimize the effects of the weight.

  • Pushing is easier than pulling because your own weight adds to the force.

  • Use repeated small movements of large objects or people. For example, move a person in sections, by moving the upper trunk first and then the legs. Repeated small movements are easier than lifting things or people as a whole all at once.

  •  Always face the client or object you are lifting or moving.

  • Always tell a client what you are planning to do, and find out how he or she prefers to be moved.

  • Transferring from the bed to a wheelchair or bedside chair

  • Plan the job and prepare to lift.

  • Place the chair at a slight angle to the side of the bed. • If using a wheelchair, lock both brakes. Fold up the foot pedals and remove the footrests.

  • Stabilize the bed so it will not move.

  • Put footwear on the client.

  • Lower the bed so the client’s feet will reach the floor.

  • Move the person to the edge of the bed. First, move the upper trunk, then the legs one at a time.  • Place the person’s legs over the side of the bed.

  • Place your arms around the person, circling the back in a sort of hug.

  • Raise the person to a sitting position on the side of the bed.                            

  • Place a gait belt around the client’s waist if you so desire (recommended).

  • Gradually slide or “walk” the person’s buttocks forward until his feet are flat on the floor. “Walk” the buttocks by grasping both legs together under the knees and swinging them gently back and forth as the buttocks move forward.

  • Place your feet on both sides of the person’s feet for support. Your feet should be far enough apart to give you a good base of support.

  • Have the person lean forward and if possible place his arms around your shoulders. Do not allow his arms around your neck, as this can injure your neck.

  • Allow the person to reach for the far wheelchair arm.

  • Bend your hips and knees while keeping your back straight.  

  • Place your arms around the person’s waist. If using a gait belt, grasp the belt at the sides of the back with both hands. Do not hold the person under the arms— this can cause injury to the client.

  • Keep the person’s knees stabilized by holding your knees against his.

  • Pull up to lift the client, straightening your knees and hips as you both stand.

  • Keep the client close to your body. Keep your knees and hips slightly bent.

  • When the person is high enough to clear the armrest or chair surface, turn by taking small steps. Keep the person’s knees blocked with your own knees.

  • When turned, bend your hips and knees to squat, lowering the client to the seat.  

  • Replace the footrests. Adjust the height of the foot pedals so the person will be sitting with a 90-degree angle at the hips and knees.

  • When transporting a person in a wheelchair, pull it backwards up steps or curbs.  

  • Follow the same principles to return the person to bed.