Friday, March 11, 2011

ADA: Patient Lifts: Transferring a Special Needs Child with a Physical Disability Safely

How do you know when you need a patient lift?  You need a lift when the person you are caring for can no longer perform assisted transfers safely and/or is becoming too big to lift safely.
How do freestanding patient lifts work?
How do freestanding patient lifts work?

Freestanding lifts have a boom or a horizontal arm that raises and lowers the patient.  The sling or device that actually holds the patient attaches to the boom.  The boom attaches to a vertical bar or mast.  The bottom of the lift has 2 horizontal legs often called a fork that acts as a counter balance to provide stability to the lift. 

Although the sizes of freestanding lifts can vary, commonly the dimensions are as follow:
  • Lift range of boom:  28”- 77”.
  • Width: 24” when forks are closed, 42.5” with forks open.
  • Length: 43.5”
  • Base clearance (floor to top of forks.): 5.5”

Patient lifts can fit through most standard doors and work with 8’ ceilings with no problem.

So how do you choose the correct patient lift?

There are two main choices for patient lifts.  Manual or power lifts.

Manual lifts: Have a hydraulic mechanism operated with a hand pump that requires minimum effort to raise and lower the patient.  These lifts are effective and less expensive then power lifts but a bit slow, most people prefer power lifts.

Power lifts: Have a rechargeable battery that usually plugs in directly to a plug in the wall.  Most power lifts have a remote that controls the vertical movement of the lift can be controlled by the caregiver or the patient.  If you can afford a power lift choose a power lift, the time savings is money well spent.

What do you need the lift to do?
Freestanding lifts:
  • Transfer from floor to chair/wheelchair/bed.
  • Require 6” of clearance above floor for forks to roll under or forks can fit on either side of a chair less than 42” wide.

Freestanding lifts do not work with:
  • Pools or bathtubs because there is no place for the forks to be placed.  Ceiling lifts or pool lifts are required for bathtubs or pools.

There are a few basic types of devices to hold the patient from which to choose.

Patient Slings:  The most common and least expensive patient holding device is the patient sling.  Patient slings come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Slings are washable but can be difficult to use.  In order to lift a patient with a sling the sling must be put under the patient.  Getting a sling under a patient can be a very physically demanding task.  Often times slings are left in the wheelchair under the patient all day so caregivers don’t have to wrestling the sling under the patient to perform a transfer.

The specific sling you need depends on the abilities of the patient.  Following are examples of common slings and their uses.

My favorite patient holding device is Surehands by Handimove.  The Surehands fit under the patient’s arms and then has leg holders that hold the patient’s lower body securely.  The Surehands are simple to use and are not as physically demanding to use as a sling.

Surehands are not recommended for:
  • Patients with low tone.  Surehands work well with people who are not cognitively aware enough to hold on, but does not work well with some people who are very low tone and should be tried before purchasing.
  • Transferring people who are unable to sit up out of bed.  A patient must be in a sitting position in order to use the Surehands.  If it is easy to assist a patient into a sitting position then the Surehands will work fine but if getting someone in a sitting position is difficult a sling is a much better choice.

Surehands can be used to transfer people with Harrington rods, before use please consult your physician.

Rifton has a new lifting system on the scene this year that seems to have promise.  The Rifton SoloLift claims to be an easy lift for a variety of patients transferring to almost any venue, including from a supine position in bed.  Besides claiming a variety of transfers, it also seems to be able to be used for assisted ambulation.

The Rifton SoloLift looks as though it may have the ease of use of the Surehands and the multiple applications of the sling including ease of use with very low tone clients. 

I’m on the list to demo a Rifton SoloLift, I can’t wait to see its possibilities.  Has anyone else used a Rifton SoloLift?  What are your thoughts??


Carol said...

I'm a SureHands sales rep in NY. Thanks for the great recommendation for the Body Support. I have some experience with the SoloLift. I'd love to share with you.

inge data said...

This is a great product! I found some more information on this website: