Consider this common scenario: Your dad can't get out of bed and into his wheelchair without help. A

By Michelle Seitzer

Without adequate training on how best to transfer her dad -- and without physical or mechanical aid (i.e. a patient lift or a lifting belt) -- it may only be a matter of time before the daughter, and maybe her dad, are hurt or injured. The harm or damage may occur instantaneously or surface after.

The Centers for Disease Control mention "overexertion events" as the "leading source of and costs in healthcare settings." Nurses and other frontline nursing staff suffer more back and shoulder injuries, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and chronic back pain -- experienced both on and off the job -- than any other profession, says this CDC post. The problem of safe patient handling becomes of greater importance, as obesity rates continue to soar, and as family and professional caregivers age. In addition, the nursing shortage will strike 250,000 by the year 2025 (based on research referenced in the above CDC post). There are safe patient handling laws in a few hospitals and healthcare facilities, but thus far, they've only been enacted in 10 states (source: American Nurses Association), and such laws do not cover caregivers at home or in the community.

A health professional for someone with mobility challenges is most likely "lifting" their patient or loved one multiple times throughout a 24 hour period, and like the father-daughter example, most health professional/caree pairs are often not well-matched in terms of strength and size. Don't let that stop you from lifting practices that are safe . Consider these hints:

1. Communicate with the person you are lifting. Do not just come up without warning or without a strategy. Put them at ease, tell them you plan to transfer them, and to where. Communicate with them throughout the transport. Do not dash.

2. Do not use your rear to lift. Rather, concentrate on using the strength in your legs.

3. Help, don't lift. Make the move a joint attempt. Request the patient to help you in any manner that is possible.

4. Don't lift from of the patient, says Wade McKinney, aka "TheTransferGuy." Doing so is prone to cause injury and less easy. Rather, "have the patient push up using their arms and support their forearms just below the elbows." He counsels this technique is just not ideal for all patients, "especially people who need a whole lot more help."

5. Utilize a patient lift. It is one of the safest, most comfortable, most dignity-preserving approaches available, and it's fairly affordable too. Split the cost with a different caregiving neighbor, if need be, or ask family members to help cover the cost. Costs range from $600 to $6000, based on the type of lift.

Desire to find out more on the subject of patient lifts? See our site to view a variety of slings, lifts, lifting systems and accessories from top manufacturers that will meet an array of needs (i.e. lifting multiple patients, needing to transport the lift to other rooms, or a lift designed expressly for getting into a pool).