Many wheelchair users and their caregivers are unfamiliar with proper methods for transferring to and from wheelchairs. While this task can be intimidating, it's not insurmountable. Read on for basic information on wheelchair transfers, along with tips to help transfers go smoothly.
Basic Rules for Wheelchair Transfers
Moving in and out of a wheelchair takes both strength and coordination.
While some people who use wheelchairs are able to manage this daily task on their own, others require assistance. The following basic techniques typically apply:
- Move the wheelchair as close as possible to the surface/area to where you are moving the individual.
- Transfer on the stronger side of the patient's body.
- When moving someone in and out of a wheelchair, the chair should always be locked.
- If you're moving upward -- for example, up a curb or stairs -- pull the wheelchair backwards.
- The wheelchair user should be seated with legs at a right angle (90 degrees) at both knee and hip.
- The foot pedals should always be swung out of the way or raised completely.
- Move the armrest out of the way on the side where you are transferring.
- The person's feet should be flat on the floor, unless he/she has been directed otherwise.
- If the individual you are moving starts to fall, do not try to prevent him/her from the fall. Instead, bend your knees and slowly lower him to the chair, bed, floor, or other safe surface. Call for help, if necessary.
And remember: communication is important throughout this process. Before beginning the transfer, explain your approach. This ensures that you can work together as well as possible, and that the individual can help you to the best of his/her abilities.
In some cases, extra help will be required to move the person in and out of the wheelchair, and to make the process safer for both patient and caregiver. Common transfer aids include gait belts, mechanical lifts, and sliding boards. Before using these devices, inspect all straps, materials, stitching, hooks and chains to ensure that they are in good condition. If they look frayed or broken, refrain from using them.
Understanding how to make wheelchair transfers offers increased safety and security for caregivers and patients alike.
Additional Help With Wheelchair Transfers
The appearance of new sores or skin problems, differences in the condition of the patient's shoulders, arms, or other body parts, and complaints of new pain following a transfer are signs that you should call the doctor.
If you are uncertain about the transfer process or have any questions, a trained healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or nurse, can be a valuable resource.
Lastly, remember that as each person's abilities vary, so do their transfer needs. The amount of help you provide will depend on the specifics of the situation, including whether the person is moving in or out of
, or shower chair. The tips and techniques can help makes transfers easier and safer for individuals and their caregivers.