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Watch Your Back

by Ginger

According to the National Institute of Health, nearly 71% of all caregivers who assist with patient transfers suffer from lower back pain. We have all been there. It only takes one instant and you become a statistic. When a lower back strain occurs, you often do not have the luxury of taking it easy and allowing it to heal properly. The injury occurs again and again, which can lead to permanent injury and a reduced quality of life for the caregiver and their patient. In the worst case, the caregiver become unable to care for the other person or risk a fall.

Those who work as professional caregivers in the clinical setting know these dangers all too well, but the risk for injury is the same for those who take care of someone at home. And maybe even higher as caregivers may not have any help.

Avoiding back strain and other strain injuries is essential for the quality of both of your lives. The days of big, clunky wheelchairs and strollers is a thing of the past, but depending on stature, the type of vehicle, and a lack of knowledge about proper lifting techniques, back strain is still a problem. Here are some tips for making life easier and avoiding strain injuries during transfers.

  • When you purchase mobility equipment try folding it, unfolding it, and lifting it. Ask the sales person if you can take it out to your vehicle and try taking it in an out. Notice any areas of strain when you do.
  • Always lift from your legs and keep your back straight. Do not curve your spine when lifting. Practice without weight until you can lift without dumping into your back.
  • Stay physically fit. Weight training and strengthening exercises for the back are an excellent way to avoid injury.
  • If you do strain your back, be willing to accept and ask for help. This is hard for some, but it is for your own good and for the good of the person whom you care for.
  • Lastly, when purchasing equipment, make certain that it is ergonomically correct for the other person and for you. Keep searching until you find something that fits the both of you. Choose a mobility stroller or wheelchair that is lightweight and easy to transfer in and out of the vehicle. Adaptive Specialties offers many options from manufacturers such as Liko Portable Lifts, Volker Hospital Beds and Hill-Rom Hospital Beds and Mattresses. While it is important to choose equipment that fits the person with the disability, it is equally important to find something that fits the caregiver as well.