Integrating Patient Handling Equipment into Physical Therapy Activities in a Rehabilitation Setting: A Case Series


One time download – from September 2011 issue



Rehabilitation professionals are at high risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) secondary to manual patient handling. Although safe patient handling and movement (SPHM) programs, including the use of mechanical lifts, are effective in reducing MSDs in nursing, they are not often used by physical therapists in the rehabilitation setting. The purpose of this case series is to describe how mechanical lift equipment was integrated into rehabilitation interventions for patients in an acute rehabilitation unit. Physical therapists (PT) selected 3 patients to integrate a mechanical sit-to-stand lift device into their rehabilitation intervention programs. Outcome measures, the Functional Independence Measure (FIM), and patient and therapist opinion of the device were obtained. Upon discharge, FIM scores for each patient increased or stayed the same for all transfer, locomotion, and stair negotiation categories. The patient outcomes were also within or exceeded the therapists’ expectations of progress. The PTs anecdotally reported high levels of job satisfaction from decreased manual handling and felt the lifts enhanced the patients’ ability to participate in the intervention programs. Mechanical lift equipment can provide a safe therapeutic environment for the patient and therapist while enabling the patient to progress toward rehabilitation goals. A culture of safety should be more broadly adopted by PTs to reduce MSDs and reduce therapist flight from rehabilitation.

McIlvaine J, Anderson J, Harwood KJ

Keywords: safe patient handling, lifting equipment, physical therapy, patient rehabilitation, FIM scores