Effectiveness of safe patient handling equipment and techniques: a review of biomechanical studies
Objective: This review aimed to evaluate all studies that have evaluated the biomechanical effects when using assistive devices.
Introduction: The physical demands of patient handling activities are well known. One safety strategy for the reduction of the physical risks is use of assistive devices.
Method: The search process identified articles published in English-speaking journals through Google Scholar, Medline, and ISI Web of Science. The included 56 studies contained a biomechanical assessment of a patient handling activity with assistive devices.
Results: The biomechanical effects included four groups: changes in body posture (spinal, other joints), subjective assessment (force, effort, discomfort), measured force (hand force, ground reaction force, spine force, joint torque), and physiological measures. The evidence showed caregivers benefited from using lift hoists, air-assisted devices, and to a lesser extent friction reducing devices for lateral transfers and repositioning, while floor and ceiling lifts were most effective for patient transfers. Some gaps were noted in the evidence and other handling tasks such as sit-to-stand, turning patient in bed, limb lifting, and repositioning and some more high hazard activities like supporting people with limited balance and those that fall need to be investigated with respect to biomechanical outcomes.
Conclusion: There is a growing level of biomechanical evidence to support the use of assistive devices for many patient-handling tasks, but the benefits of equipment use in some transfers remain uninvestigated.
Practical Application: Evidence indicates the best way to lift patients safely is with floor or ceiling lifts, and air-assisted devices for lateral and repositioning tasks.
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Published inHuman Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
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