Good body mechanics and proper lifting techniques are so important for keeping your back and body healthy. As our kids with special needs and mobility restrictions get older, it is important to re-evaluate how they are lifted and carried to ensure everyone stays safe and healthy. Here are some suggestions for ways to set up and execute transfers to avoid injury.

  1. Check your environment. Make sure the floor is not slippery and that it is free of all obstacles. Also make sure that all transfer surfaces are stable with the breaks (if applicable) locked.
  2. Use your legs to lift while keeping your back straight. Bending at the hips puts a lot of strain on the low back. Instead, spread your feet apart (giving yourself a wide base) and bend at the knees.
  3. Try not to turn your trunk while you are lifting. Rotating your back while you are holding a heavy load is a great way to injure something. Lift up first and try taking small steps to turn your entire body.
  4. Set up the transfer to limit the amount of time you are holding the child and limit the distance the child needs to be moved. 
  5. Have the child help when possible. This may include bearing weight through their legs or pushing up with their arms to assist with the lift.
  6. Ask for help or use transfer equipment. There is a variety of equipment available that is specifically designed to aid with transfers. This includes gait belts, transfer boards, specialized lifts, shower chairs, etc. 

Please don’t wait until it is too late to alter your transfer techniques. Injuring yourself or your child are far too common. A physical therapist can help you find safe solutions to help you help your child. This may include the best way to set up transfer surfaces, optimizing your child’s strengths to aid with the movement or helping to determine the most appropriate type of transfer equipment. 

About the Author: Rachel Phipps

Rachel obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Creighton University in 2013. She joined the staff of Building Bridges in 2013. Rachel continues to improve her clinical skills by attending courses related to Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT), toe walking, vestibular rehabilitation, therapeutic taping and myofascial release. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons as well as hiking, kayaking and running.