How to Select a Patient Lift System

“Patient Lifts” or “Mechanical Lifts” are used to move persons with disabilities from one surface to another. For example, to lift a person from a bed to a wheelchair. These lifts are used when it is no longer safe for a person to transfer by themselves, or with the help of a caregiver.

So how do you know what lift to select? There are hundreds of lifts available with dozens of features. With all these options, it’s hard to figure what you need.

Here is a summary of the types of lifts available and who may benefit from each type.

1. Mechanical lift: This lift uses a sling to lift the person completely off the floor. The lift itself requires the operator to use a control or crank to lift the person and then manually push the lift to move the person. The most well-know is the Hoyer Lift. It required at least 5 foot turning radius and a smooth surface floor. Carpeting can make pushing the lift difficult to almost impossible. It is designed for 2 people to operate the lift. One supporting the person’s head and the other to move the lift. Commonly used in Nursing Homes. This item (in the crank version) is usually covered by insurance with a doctor’s prescription.

2. Standing Lift: Similar to the mechanical lift except the person is standing. A sling is placed around the persons back and under their arms, while their feet are placed on a platform. The operator uses the lift to bring the person to a stand and them moves the lift to the desired location. The benefits of this lift is that is requires less floor space to turn (3-4 feet vs 5 feet) and the person continues to stand (weight bearing reduced bone density loss and maintains strength). Additionally, it is easier to get the person positioned correctly in a wheelchair without repositioning. This can be a good solution for persons with Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, MS and other neurological conditions. Helps those who may be able to tolerate standing with help of one or 2 people, but have difficulty taking a step needed to transfer.

3. Ceiling Lift: This type of lift is mounted to a track in the ceiling and can be used in one room or all rooms of a home. Using a sling, the person is lifted and them moved from one location to another. No physical demands are placed on the caregiver. Several types of slings are available including slings that enable people to stand while being supported. This is an excellent choice for the home, hospital and nursing home. Portable units are available, which work on a standing frame. This type of lift is an excellent choice for persons with chronic and chronic progressive physical and neurological conditions. This is the easiest lift for caregivers. Medical conditions include Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, CP, head injuries as well as many others.

It is essential that caregivers are trained to use the equipment to ensure safe and proper use.

When selecting a lift, it is important consider the current and future needs, medical condition, structure of the home, caregivers abilities and financial resources available. Consulting with an Independent Living Specialist, Occupational Therapist, experienced with these various types will ensure you find the right product to meet your needs and your budget.


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