How to use a Patient Transfer Board

Posted on 15 Dec 11:06

Transfer Boards 

Transferring Using a Transfer Board

Transfer boards are also referred to as sliding transfer boards. PRO2 Medical offers a large selection of patient transfer boards. A transfer board is a safer and easier method for the caregiver to transfer or "scoot" a patient from the wheelchair to the bed or from bed to chair.  Transferring the patient or helping the patient at home you should always ensure safety and control for the patient.  A transfer board is a great tool.  

When transferring, you help the patient move between two surfaces (such as a bed and a wheelchair). Safe transferring the patient is crucial to preventing injuries. The type of transfer you will use depends on your overall health and strength.

The following describes one type of transfer using a transfer board.

Using a Transfer Board

A transfer board is typically a flat, rigid board made of wood or plastic and the board used to create a bridge for the patient to slide from one surface to another.  Using a transfer board allow the patient to move between surfaces without using your legs. It allows for several small movements instead of one big motion. Use the transfer board by sliding small movements at a time across the board, allowing you to make small safer movements, which also require less upper body strength than other types of transfers.

In the beginning of the patients rehabilitation he or she will need help using a transfer board. One or 2 caregivers will assist. A gait belt can also help. The gait belt is a special belt that lets a caregiver support and help the patient more easily. As the patient improves, he or she may be able to use the transfer board by themselves.

Tips for a Successful Transfer

These tips can help you perform transfers using transfer boards more safely and easily.

  • If your physician or physical therapist recommends that you use a transfer board, always use it during transfers. Keep it within easy reach. Never substitute another object if the transfer board is not nearby.
  • Move slowly and carefully. Pay careful attention to your movements and the location of your body parts as you transfer across the board.
  • Transfer between surfaces of similar height or transfer to a slightly lower surface. This reduces work for you and your caregiver.
  • Protect your skin. This means keeping your skin from getting pinched or rubbed during the transfer. For instance, don’t drag your buttocks on the board. And always wear clothing or use a transfer sheet. This is a fabric sheet that helps ease movement during transfers.
  • Keep your body parts in correct position. Keep your feet flat on the floor throughout most types of transfers. As you move across the board, stop as needed and reposition your legs and feet. Do this 1 leg at a time, keeping each foot aligned with the knee. To avoid stress on the wrist or overstretching your hand while moving, try making your hands into fists. Support your body weight on the flat surface between the knuckles. When transferring, never put your hands or fingers under the board.
  • Wear any orthopedic devices you have while transferring. And always wear sturdy shoes when possible.
  • If you are experiencing decreased strength or sensation in your upper body, work with a caregiver to help you transfer. As you grow more comfortable using a transfer board, you may learn to transfer without a caregiver. At this point, you may use special transfer board equipment that can help you transfer by yourself.


    Moving from a Bed to a Wheelchair

    • One common transfer is from a bed to a wheelchair. Follow physical therapist directions to perform this movement safely using a transfer board. You may have a caregiver or 2 helping you. They will be trained in providing the amount of support you need:
    • Sit on the side of the bed. Your legs should hang over the edge with your feet flat on the floor.
    • The wheelchair should be positioned as close to the bed as possible. It should be placed at about a 30° angle to the bed.
    • The wheels of the chair should be locked. Both footrests should be moved out of the way. And the armrest nearest to you should be removed.
    • You or your caregiver should slide 1 end of the transfer board beneath your thigh. Point it downward to keep from pinching the skin. Leaning your upper body in the opposite direction from the board can make placing the board easier.
    • The other end of the board should be placed flat on the wheelchair seat. The board should point toward the back seat corner farthest from the bed. Also, the front edge of the board should be forward of the wheelchair’s rear wheel.
    • To move across the board, unweight your body by pushing up with your arms. Next, carefully move your body toward the second surface and lower it back onto the board. Repeat, using several short movements instead of 1 long movement. As you transfer, lean your head and shoulders in the opposite direction of the move. For instance, to move left, lean your head and shoulders to the right as you move your buttocks to the left.
    • Once you are settled fully on the second surface, the transfer board can be removed.


    Moving Between Other Surfaces

    • Between a wheelchair and other household surfaces. The basic steps listed above can also be used to transfer to and from other surfaces in the home. These include a toilet and a couch.
    • From a wheelchair into a car. The basic steps listed above can also be used for getting into a car. The following tips can also help:
    • You may have 1 or 2 caregivers helping you transfer into a car.
    • Before beginning the transfer, the car seat should be moved as far back as possible. This gives you more room to move. It also makes it easier to pull the folded wheelchair into the car.If more headroom is needed, the back of the car seat can be slightly reclined.
    • The window of the door you’re entering should be rolled down. This provides a surface you can grip while moving.
    • After your buttocks are positioned on the car seat, fasten your seat belt. This will give you more stability as you move your legs into the car.
    • Move your legs into the car 1 at a time.
    • Fold the wheelchair per the manufacturer’s instructions. If caregivers are helping you, they may load the chair into the back seat or trunk of the car.
    • For Caregivers: Take Care of Your Back
    • Helping a patient transfer can be hard on your back. To reduce the risk of a back injury, remember to do the following:
    • Organize the steps in your mind before you move.
    • Explain the steps of the move and ask the patient when he or she is ready to move.
    • Keep your knees bent and your back straight.
    • You may use a gait belt to provide a firm hold, rather than clasping your hands behind the patient’s back.
    • Get help when you need it.
    • Ask to practice first with supervision from a health care provider.

     Types of transfer boards vary. Some are wood or plastic and some have cut outs.