Sling Buyer's Guide

A safe patient transfer requires two things, a patient lift and a sling. There are many variations of slings, all dependent upon a patient’s needs. These slings cradle and lift a person during a transfer between a bed, wheelchair, or commode/shower chair. One’s medical condition can dictate the type of sling they can use. For example, a patient that must remain in a supine position should not use a sling that lifts the patient in a seated position. Most slings utilize a 2 or 4 strap connection method or allow for a connection using chains. These slings can be positioned while a patient is in a horizontal or seated position. There are many variations of slings to accommodate most patients’ needs.

Cradle Slings

A cradle sling is positioned underneath the patient and lifts them up into a seated position. This allows for a safe transfer from a bed to a wheelchair. These slings are solid and vary depending upon a patient’s mobility. Many of these slings can be placed under a patient in a supine or seated position. They support the back and head while crossing under the legs. Another style is in the shape of an hourglass, which supports from the shoulders to the knees and connects via a four point connection. Many have a four-point attachment to the lift boom arm. They are made of a solid polyester-nylon or a meshed polyester material. These are easily washed and dried. Many of these slings can be left under the patient, but care must be taken since some slings retain body heat.

Supine Slings

When a patient must maintain a horizontal position, a supine sling maintains a flat position. Many times a patient’s medical condition will not allow for a patient to bend, these slings make it safe to transfer these patients. These slings allow the patient to be transferred from a bed to a therapy table or a shower table. This style of sling is typically used in conjunction with a special type of lift specifically made for lifting a patient in a horizontal position.

Commode or Toileting Slings

For toileting needs, the patient must be transferred to a commode chair or toilet. These polyester slings have a round opening, matching that of a toilet or commode chair, which makes toileting easy and convenient. They are made from polyester/nylon and can be washed and dried with ease. This material reduces slipping, making for a secure transfer.

Invacare Large Toileting Sling
Invacare Large Toileting Sling

Standing Slings

Standing lifts raise a patient to a standing position, therefore requires a different type of sling. These lifts raise the patient on a diagonal axis, instead of vertically. Depending upon a patient’s ability, these slings can range from being similar to a cradle sling or being just a strap around the patient’s back and under their arms. Some may even resemble a belt.

Invacare Standing Sling For Reliant 350 And 440
Invacare Standing Sling For Reliant 350 And 440

Patient Sling Additional Features

Patient slings are color-coded according to a patient’s weight. Checking with each manufacturer will allow the proper sling to be purchased. These slings use polyester-nylon or a meshed polyester material which are machine washable and easily dried so a sanitary condition can be maintained. These materials can be padded which makes transfers more comfortable.


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