Patient Transfer Aids

Patient transfer aids play an important role in providing smooth transfers for patients who have restricted mobility, are ill and unable to move unassisted. Or those who are bariatric and need help moving around. Manual lifting and moving is not advisable and may not be possible too because of their health conditions or weight and keeping in mind safety of the caregiver. Patient transfer aids are meant for safe patient handling and make this task easy and convenient. The correct transfer device can assist in rehabilitation of the patient, reduce morbidity and preserve dignity.

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Types of Patient Transfer Equipment

There are several types of patient transfer equipment designed to assist in transfers from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to commode and vice versa. Each is designed to handle specific patient type. Common patient transfer aids include transfer belts, transfer boards, walking belts, evac chairs, lifting cushions and slider sheets.

Gait Belts or Transfer Belts

Those who are minimally dependent, of average weight and co-operative can be moved around with the help of a transfer belt. Transfer belts are placed securely around the waist of those with impaired mobility or those who require partial assistance when moving from one spot to another. This transfer device is ideal for patients who are difficult to hold because of size or patient discomfort. Belts used for assisted walking are referred to as gait belts. A buckle on the belt provides the caregiver a secure hold on the patient.

Transfer Boards and Slides

  • A transfer board is helpful when transferring someone with good arm strength and normal sitting balance. They are available in both plastic and wood and can bear huge amounts of weight. These patient transfer devices are long and of full body length and bridge the gap between surfaces during transfer, for example from wheelchair or stretcher to bed. Transfer boards have convenient hand holes for steady grasp on the board and some transfer boards have a non-skid pad on the bottom to increase stability. Also available are shorter length transfer boards meant for lateral, seated-to-seated transfers. 

  • Transfer sheets are designed to help in repositioning of patients, transfer patients horizontally on beds and chairs without having to lift. A slick inner surface makes gliding over the sheet effortless and friction-less. 

  • Transfer systems with a circular seat on a track are suitable for repositioning patients in bed through a sliding transfer technology. The seat glides without friction and can rotate 360 degrees making it easy for the patient to sit, turn and move down the board.  

  • Pivot transfer devices allow the user to stand on the center of the pivot and swivel in any direction with or without help. Can be used for transfers both indoors and outdoors.

Evacuation and Floor Recovery Products

Evacuation and floor recovery products have been developed to help in the emergency evacuation of the elderly. Evac chairs are designed for smooth transportation of a person down or up the stairs without requiring more than one person to do it. They are also easy to maneuver through narrow aisles or cramped areas.

  • Lifting cushions help a person who is bariatric or has impaired mobility and cannot be lifted from the ground even by a caregiver. The deflated cushion is placed under the person who has fallen or is seated on the ground and then inflated. This gradually and smoothly lifts the person into a sitting position.  
  • Patient movers are employed to help in smooth transfers over uneven surfaces. They have built-in handles for ease of positioning and bridge gaps between transfer points.

How to Choose the Correct Patient Transfer Device?

  • Choosing the correct patient transfer device is important for effectiveness of the device. And this selection will depend on what the patient requirement is and his/her health status. 

  • An equipment’s correct utility is also important for the safety of both the patient and the caregiver.  

  • If the patient has strong use of the arms but weak legs and normal sitting balance then transfer boards are suitable in such cases. A caregiver may be present or not. 

  • If the transfer is likely to be across a larger gap then buying a long transfer board makes sense. If the transfer distance will be short – from bed to wheelchair or chair to toilet seat – then a short transfer board will be more suitable.  

  • A curved transfer board makes it convenient when transferring around fixed armrests.  

  • Transfer belts are suitable if the patient is co-operative, independent to an extent but has impaired mobility.  

  • Gait belts can do the job if there is a caregiver involved and assistance is required for walking.  

  • If the patient can stand but is not able to turn for a transfer then using a pivot transfer disc will be suitable.