Wheelchair Transfers After Spinal Cord Injury

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A wheelchair transfer is when you move into or out of a wheelchair. You may use a transfer board to bridge the gap between your wheelchair and the bed, toilet, or bathtub. Healthcare providers may show you how to do stand-pivot-sit transfers so that a transfer board is not needed.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

How to move yourself into your wheelchair without help:

  • Position yourself at the edge of the bed or toilet in a sitting position. Keep your feet flat on the floor.

  • Place your wheelchair as close to your bed or toilet as possible. Lock the wheels. Move the arm and footrest that are closest to the bed or toilet out of the way.

  • Put one edge of the transfer board under your buttock and the other edge on the wheelchair seat.

  • Put your hands on the bed or toilet seat, straighten your elbows, and push yourself up off the surface. Move yourself over the board in small movements until you are completely on the wheelchair. Do not drag yourself across the board. Doing this can tear or scratch your skin.

  • Remove the transfer board and position yourself in the middle of your wheelchair.

  • Move the arm and footrest back into place.

How someone can help you move into your wheelchair if you need help:

  • Use a transfer board.

    • Have another person help position you at the edge of the bed or toilet in a sitting position. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor.

    • Have the person place your wheelchair as close to your bed or toilet as possible. Lock the wheels. Have the person move the arm and footrest that are closest to the bed or toilet out of the way.

    • Have the person place one edge of the transfer board under your buttock. Place the other edge on the wheelchair seat.

    • Have the person stand in front of you with his knees pressing against your knees to keep them stable. The person also holds your shoulders to keep you from falling.

    • Put your arms around the person's shoulders. You may also cross your arms over your chest or put your hands in your lap.

    • Have the person put their arms around you to hold you as you lean forward toward him.

    • The person lifts you off the bed or toilet seat and pivots toward your wheelchair. He may set you down on the transfer board halfway through the turn if needed. He should not drag you across the transfer board. Doing this can tear or scratch your skin.

    • Have the person remove the transfer board. He should make sure that you are positioned in the middle of the wheelchair.

    • Last, the person moves the arm and footrest back into place.

  • Have another person help you sit on the edge of your bed or toilet. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor.

  • Have the person place your wheelchair as close to your bed or toilet as possible. Lock the wheels. Have the person move the arm and footrest that are closest to the bed or toilet out of the way.

  • Have the person place one edge of the transfer board under your buttock. Place the other edge on the wheelchair seat.

  • Have the person stand in front of you with his knees pressing against your knees to keep them stable. The person also holds your shoulders to keep you from falling.

  • Put your arms around the person's shoulders. You may also cross your arms across your chest or put your hands in your lap.

  • Have the person put their arms around you to hold you as you lean forward toward him.

  • Have the person lift you to a standing position. At the same time, the person presses his knees firmly against yours to lock your knees in the straight position.

  • The person pivots you toward your wheelchair.

  • Have the person remove the transfer board. He should make sure that you are positioned in the middle of the wheelchair.

  • Last, the person moves the arm and footrest back into place.

How to transfer from your wheelchair to the toilet:

  • Move the footrests out of the way and move the wheelchair close to the front of the toilet.

  • Put your feet flat on the ground in front of you. Lock the wheelchair.

  • Move to the edge of your wheelchair. Slide your pants and underwear down to your ankles. Remove the clothes from one ankle so that you can spread your legs apart.

  • Put your feet flat on the floor next to the sides of the toilet. Spread your knees and ankles wider than the toilet.

  • Grab the safety bars next to and behind the toilet. Facing the wall behind the toilet, lift yourself up.

  • Hold the safety bars, turn your body around, and lower yourself onto the toilet.

  • After you have finished and transferred yourself back to your wheelchair, move the arm and footrests back into place.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You feel you cannot make transfers by yourself and need help.

  • You do not understand how to do a transfer.

  • Your skin has been torn or cut during a transfer.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Wheelchair Transfers After Spinal Cord Injury (Discharge Care)

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