Proper Patient Lifting Techniques for Healthcare Providers

Back injuries are a common injury for those working in the healthcare field. Here are some simple rules to follow to avoid injury.
 
General Considerations Prior to Taking Action:
1. Know the weight of your patient and consider the mode of transportation (e.g., stretcher, wheel chair)
2. Know your limitations and be realistic. If you cannot safely move the patient on you own, get help.
3. Communicate, both with your colleague and with the patient. When everyone is on the same page, injuries are minimized and all efforts are more efficient.   
 
Proper Technique for General Movement:
* Consider your body alignment. By keeping your head and neck aligned with your spine you minimize the risk for sprains and strains.
* Bend and lift with the knees, not at the waist. Bending at the waist puts unnecessary stress on your lower spine.
* Avoid twisting your body, especially while bending, for the same reasons as above.
* Hold the patient close to your body while lifting and transferring them. The closer you hold them the easier it is to maintain your natural center of gravity and remain steady on your feet. By extending your arms, you engage weaker muscles and increase the risk of slips, falls, and possibly dropping your patient.
* Maintain a stance that is shoulder-width apart whenever possible, thus helping to maintain your balance and distribute your patient's weight evenly. 
 
Proper Technique for Moving a Patient from a Bed to a Wheelchair:
> Identify the patient's strongest side and position the wheelchair on that side.
> Lock the wheelchair's wheels to secure its position.
> Raise the bed until it's slightly higher than the wheelchair
> Do NOT pull the patient into a seated position. Instead, use the bed's electric controls to raise the head of the bed. You may help them by supporting their back and helping them swing their legs over the side of the bed. 
> Keeping your legs shoulder-width apart, your back straight, and your knees bent, lift the patient until they are in the standing position, otherwise known as the 'sit to stand' lift. 
> Pivot the patient until they have their back to the wheelchair. Do this slowly and with conscious, continued effort - you want to guide them not push or pull, as sudden movements can unsettle their balance - and yours.
> While maintaining your stance, keeping your back and neck aligned, and bending at the knees and not the waist, slowly lower the patient into the wheelchair. 
> This same technique can be used to help a patient from a sitting to a standing position, simply eliminate the steps with the wheelchair. It can also be used to assist a patient from a sitting to standing position from a normal chair, or while using the bathroom.