Transfer Techniques to Protect Duchenne Patients and Caregivers
Moving someone who has Duchenne from one location to another is no easy task, especially when considering patient and caregiver safety. Physical therapist, owner at Duchenne Therapy Network and CureDuchenne Cares program director, Jennifer Wallace approaches this topic in her recent blog video highlighting the importance of using proper techniques when performing transfers.
Transfers refers to moving a person form one position to another – an important topic for Duchenne families and caregivers to reduce injury and protect patients and themselves.
Wallace explains several key factors to consider when deciding which transfer is appropriate for each Duchenne patient. The patient’s cognitive ability to contribute to the transfer, the patient’s physical function during the transfer and the clinical restraints used to position a patient are examples of elements to consider when choosing the correct transfer for a Duchenne patient.
Here is an easy list of keynotes about transfers, the importance of each and how to properly perform them:
– Transfers sometimes take more than one person to aid in moving a patient. Whether doing a one or two-person transfer, always move the patient’s wheelchair or the chair you’re transferring the patient to as close as possible to decrease distance between the transfer. Move arm rests and leg rests out of the way and apply the chair breaks or disable the electronic chair controls before the transfer.
– When doing a one-person transfer, transferring someone with significant weakness is best done and most safely performed when moving the patient from a higher surface downward to a lower surface. Transferring upward adds strain to caregivers and increases the chances of injuring the patient.
– Here’s a common and effective way to perform a one-person transfer: Have the patient facing you with his arms hugging your neck over your shoulders. Wrap one arm tightly around his back until your hand has a secure grip on his ribs. Then use your other hand to secure a grip under the thigh to tightly secure his body close to yours, then lift and transfer.
– Reasons to use a two-person or mechanical lift for transfers: If the person you are transferring has had hip or femur fractures or dislocation, spinal fracture, or a spinal fusion, use a two-person lift or a mechanical lift instead of lifting the patient without help. When the patient has become a dependent transfer – meaning no longer able to assist you with the transfer – a two-person transfer or mechanical lift will be required.
– How to perform a two-person transfer: When doing a two-person transfer, one person will stand behind the patient and the other will stand in front. Crossing the patient’s arms, the caregiver behind the patient slides their hands under the patient’s arms and grip his wrists with the caregiver’s palms facing downward over the patient’s wrists. The second helper in front will place both hands under the patient’s thighs. Both lifters should count to synchronize lifting at the same time.
Lift Systems with Slings
Slings – a transfer-friendly tool where the patient sits is made of straps and a resting surface – can vary in design, however most are universal when used with mechanical lift systems. The most common options are: the U-sling, the full-body sling and the hammock sling.
Manual lift slings are used mostly when mechanical lift systems are unavailable and require at least two people to assist with the lift.
Traveling can be difficult for someone who needs assistance with being transferred and some new mechanical lifts have been upgraded to be lighter and more portable making transfers easier when on the road. Mechanical lift systems are a means of performing transfers and require little effort and promote maximum safety. Mechanical lifts should be the primary means of transfers for someone with a dependency on care.
Track lift systems, which are also mechanical lift systems, are usually freestanding or ceiling-mounted and transfers a person over specific areas such as a bed and a bathroom.
Practicing correct methods of care can ensure the wellbeing of both Duchenne patients and their caregivers. It is important to recognize when help is needed to avoid injury.
“CureDuchenne Cares” was created to provide information and resources to aid Duchenne patients everywhere. For more information about care topics, go to www.CureDuchenneCares.org. To receive automatic updates to this video series, subscribe to the “CureDuchenne Cares” channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnYgH12JZ38fjvMDHeCvvRA.