ABC’s of OT: why and when to use MECHANICAL LIFTS

Mechanical lifts are a major part of safe care within the SNF. In our facility we use two mechanical lifts in particular; the stand-lift and the Hoyer. Both are used to safely assist with functional transfers across varying surfaces. If a patient requires at least max assist of 2 for a sit>stand transfer, it is likely time to consider incorporating a mechanical lift.

It is important to remember that the stand-lift requires more active engagement from the patient than the Hoyer.

A stand-lift requires a patient to push up into a standing position with both lower extremities while pulling themselves up to a standing position with both upper extremities. The patient also needs the cognitive capability to motor plan and follow directions.

Therefore, when determining the appropriateness of a stand-lift, it is important to refer to standardized assessments to justify its use for transfers.

Ultimately, a patient should have at least a 4-/5 MMT in all extremities. The patient should also be able to bear weight for at least 30 seconds as there will need to be enough time to maneuver the lift from one surface to another.

The Hoyer requires no effort from the patient, and is the safest way to transfer someone who is either too physically weak or deconditioned to stand or who does not have the cognitive capability to participate in a transfer.

In the end, safety matters most. So when in doubt, select the guaranteed safest option for day-to-day transfers until a patient can be upgraded following therapeutic transfer training. I have created a flow-sheet to help determine whether or not a patient qualifies for a stand-lift or a Hoyer-level transfer.

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