How To Best Conquer Body Mechanics and Transferring With Courage

 

Nurse assisting patient with gait belt|A Caregiver's Expert Advice on Body Mechanics and Transferring

 

 

Body Mechanics

Body mechanics means the proper use of muscles to move and lift objects and maintain correct posture.  “It’s not the size that counts but how we use the muscles that make the difference.”  It is so very important to use good body mechanics while lifting your loved one.  I had a home health agency for 25 years and have seen a lot of people get hurt or end up with back problems for not learning the proper way of lifting.

Using good body mechanics 

The way you use your body to walk, sit, stand, lift, push, pull, or move objects are very important, everywhere and every day.  When used properly, it performs very well. But when misused, it performs badly and eventually breaks down.  Also, when done improperly, you can hurt yourself or your loved one.  If you would like more information on the subject, check out my E-book “The Caregiving Guide To Body Mechanics“.

Practicing good body mechanics offers the following benefits to the caregiver

  • Use the correct muscle groups for performing the task.
  • Reduce muscle fatigue, strain, and bodily injury.
  • Maintain personal safety.
  • Perform the tasks more efficiently.

Benefits to your loved one

  • Reduce anxiety and fears about moving.
  • Make position changes smoothly and without injury.
  • Reduce concerns about falling.
  • Increase the confidence in the caregiver’s ability to perform tasks correctly.

 

 

Steps to good body mechanics

 It helps with proper balance, conserves energy, prevents muscle strains, and maintains the natural curve of the spine.  Do you have a hard time moving your loved ones from different places? As a family caregiver, it is essential to learn how to use proper body mechanics. It will keep you from hurting yourself, help you maintain correct posture, and guide you to perform a task more efficiently.

Tips for good posture

When standing

  • Head erect
  • Shoulders back and relaxed
  • Chest up and forward
  • Arms at sides
  • Stomach flat
  • Buttocks tucked in
  • Feet parallel to each other; one foot slightly forward
  • When standing for a long time, put one foot on stool and change position every 20 minutes

Body Mechanics

When sitting

  •  Head erect
  • Shoulder back and relaxed
  • Chest up and forward
  • Hips bent at a right angle
  • Weight supported by your thighs
  • Sit all the way back in the chair
  • Have both feet flat on the floor

 

Body Mechanics

 

Maintaining good muscle tone

 Good muscle tone means the readiness of the muscle to work, that muscles are strong and ready to work. Poor muscle tone occurs when muscles are not used daily. They become weak, cause fatigue, and possible injuries. Regular exercise will improve muscle tone. For example, walking for 20 minutes at least three times a week and low-strength training, with small 2-5 pound weights. Always consult your doctor before beginning. You should always start off slow and work your way up, and stretch before any exercise to prevent strains. Exercising regularly should increase muscle tone and strength, reduce stress and fatigue, and strengthen the heart muscle too.

Reviewing the muscular system 

  • Muscles are attached to bones by means of tendons
  • Joints permit movement according to the type of joint—ball and socket, hinge, or pivot
  • The muscular system maintains the body’s correct posture
  • Back and abdominal muscles help to provide correct posture
  • The large, strong muscles of the arms, legs, abdomen, and, buttocks are used for lifting and moving objects
  • Back muscles are the weakest ones
  • Muscles are strengthened by use; proper exercise helps keep muscles in good working condition

Male body musclesA Caregiver's Expert Advice on Body Mechanics and Transferring

Maintaining balance

When standing, lifting, or moving, it is always important to keep your body in proper balance. Remember, when standing; keep your feet apart with one foot slightly forward. This will provide a wider base of support and better balance.  To improve your balance here are a few to help maintain balance:

  • Try standing on one leg while doing something standing up, like washing dishes.
  • Take a tai chi class
  • Walk heel to toe
  • Do some squats
  • Take up ballet

Test your balance

When we get older, balance is one of the most important things to maintain.  Falling is one of the most serious medical problems facing our loved ones.  Here are 3 moved to see how well you can maintain your balance.

 

  1. With both feet: Stand with feet together, ankles touching, and arms folded across chest; then close your eyes. Have someone time you: Though it’s normal to sway a little, you should be able to stand for 60 seconds without moving your feet. Next, place one foot directly in front of the other and close your eyes. You should be able to stand for at least 38 seconds on both sides.
  2. On one foot: Stand on one foot and bend another knee, lifting non-supporting foot off floor without letting it touch the standing leg. (Do this in a doorway so you can grab the sides if you start to fall.) Repeat with eyes closed. People age 60 and younger can typically hold the pose for about 29 seconds with their eyes open, 21 seconds with their eyes closed. People age 61 and older: 22 seconds with eyes open, 10 seconds with eyes closed.
  3. On the ball of foot: Stand on one foot with hands-on-hips, and place the non-supporting foot against the inside knee of the standing leg. Raise heel off the floor and hold the pose—you should be able to do so for 25 seconds.

Protecting your back

Back injuries usually occur because of many factors. Some factors may include incorrect use of body mechanics, poor posture, staying in one position for too long, and lack of rest.

All caregivers are required to have additional support for the back, especially when your loved one is heavier than yourself. Back belts are very important when lifting or moving objects or patients. Most people have a maximum amount of weight that they can lift safely. Know your limits. If unsure about whether you will be able to lift the weight, stop, and get help. Do not attempt to begin to lift the weight; you may injure yourself or your loved one.

 

Caregiving Store

 

Basic rules for protecting your back and practicing good body mechanics 

  1. Wear appropriate clothing.

  • Uniform or comfortable clothing
  • Non-skid shoes or tennis shoes
  • Back belt (if needed)
  1. Plan the move and prepare your loved one.

  • Go through the entire movement with your loved one before starting
  • Know where you are taking your loved one
  • Use assisting devices, if available (walker, wheelchair, etc.)
  • Get help, if necessary; instruct helper about the correct technique to use; always count 1-2-3 and move together
  1. Move your loved one or object safely.

  • Get help when lifting heavy objects
  • Push, slide or roll object when needed
  • Get on the same level of the load—squat or get on one knee
  • Keep back straight
  • Never bend over from the waist
  • Avoid sudden jerking movements—lift smoothly
  • Adjust work heights to avoid reaching, twisting, or bending
  • Never lift a load that is overhead; use a footstool to get as close to load as possible; test weight of the load before lifting
  • Bend knees and keep back straight; set object down slowly 

Bed-bound effects of loved ones that are immobile

If your loved one spends long periods in bed, they may experience the effects of immobility, which can include the following:

  • Muscle weakness or deterioration
  • Decubitus ulcers
  • Slowed circulation
  • Constipation
  • Reduced lung expansion, which could lead to pneumonia
  • Generalized discomfort

Proper positioning and moving patients in bed help reduce the effects of immobility by:

  • Encouraging effective movements for overall body function
  • Reducing excessive pressure on certain areas
  • Improving circulation and lung expansion
  • Promoting comfort and rest

Changing your loved one’s position in bed

 If your loved one cannot move or it is difficult to reposition them, the caregiver is expected to provide the necessary assistance. Explain what you are going to do and, if appropriate, see if your loved one can help.

If your loved one is unable to help with the move, a regular draw sheet or a flat sheet that has been folded into fourths and placed under your loved one may be used. The plan for your loved one who is unable to move will include a schedule for turning your loved one every two hours. Your loved ones’ position must be changed at least every two hours in order to prevent complications that arise from immobility. Each time you turn your loved one, observe the skin for any breakdowns or changes. Look for redness, paleness, or white discoloration of the skin, especially over the bony parts of the body, as these signs may indicate the beginning of bedsores.

How to raise your loved one’s head and shoulders in a hospital bed

  1. Explain what you are going to do.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Provide your loved one with privacy.
  4. Raise the bed to a convenient working position.
  5. Lock wheels on the bed, or push the bed against the wall if there are no brakes.
  6. Lower rail on side of the bed where you are working.
  7. Lower head of the bed, remove pillows and fold back top sheet.
  8. Stand to face the bed, feet about 12 inches apart.
  9. Ask your loved one to place near arm under your near arm and shoulder. Your loved ones’ hands should reach your shoulders.
  10. Slip your farthest arm under your loved ones’ neck and shoulders.
  11. On a count of three, shift your weight from foot nearest to head of the bed to your other at the same time, rock your loved one to a semi-sitting position.
  12. Support your loved one with the arm locked under shoulder, use another arm to remove or readjust the pillow.
  13. Assist your loved one to lie back in bed using locked arms and supporting neck and shoulders as before.
  14. Make sure the patient is safe and comfortable. Replace the top sheet.
  15. Place bed in the lowest position.  Raise side rail, if indicated.
  16. Wash your hands.

Moving your loved one up in bed when they can help

 There are many reasons that your loved one will need to be moved up in bed. One of the most important is to help your patient maintain proper body alignment. A patient who is correctly positioned in bed will be more comfortable.

  1. Explain what you are going to do.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Provide your loved one with privacy.
  4. Raise the bed to a convenient working height.
  5. Lock wheels on the bed, or push the bed against the wall if there are no brakes.
  6. Lower rail on the side where you are working.
  7. Fold back top sheet.  Lower your loved ones’ head; remove the pillows.
  8. Propone pillow against the headboard.  This will protect your loved one from hitting their head when moving up.
  9. Stand facing the head of bed, feet 12 inches apart.
  10. Slip one arm under your loved ones’ shoulders, the other under your loved ones’ thighs.
  11. Instruct your loved ones to bend their knees, and firmly place feet against the mattress. On a signal from you, your loved one will push with feet and hands to assist with the move up in bed.
  12. Help your loved one move toward heard of bed by shifting your body weight from your back leg to your front
  13. Several small movements may be used, instead of one large move, to reach the head of the bed.
  14. Make sure your loved one is in good body alignment.  Replace top sheet and pillows.
  15. Replace the bed in its lowest position and raise rails, if needed.
  16. Wash your hands.

Moving your loved one up in bed when they cannot help 

  1. Explain what you are going to do.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Provide your loved one with privacy.
  4. Raise the bed to a convenient workable height.
  5. Lock wheels on the bed, or push the bed against the wall if there are no brakes.
  6. Lower rail on the side where you are working.
  7. Fold back top sheet. Lower your loved ones’ head; remove the pillows.
  8. Propone pillow against the headboard. This will protect your loved one from hitting their head when moving up.
  9. Be sure your loved one has a turning sheet in position under their body.
  10. Keep the side rails up.
  11. Stand at the head of the bed, feet about 12 inches apart, one foot in front of the other, facing the foot off the bed.
  12. Roll-top of turning sheet toward your loved ones’ head.
  13. Firmly grasp the tip of turning sheet in both hands.
  14. Use good body mechanics—bend knees and hips, keep your back straight.
  15. On the count of three, shift your weight from front leg to back leg, pulling turning sheet and your loved one up toward the head of the bed.
  16. Several small movements may be used, instead of one large move, to reach the head of the bed.
  17. Check lower sheets for wrinkles; smooth and untangle, if necessary.
  18. Make sure your loved one is in good body alignment.  Replace the top sheet and pillow.
  19. Replace the bed in its lowest position and raise rails, if needed.
  20. Wash your hands.

Conclusion

Good body mechanics is part of being healthy and when you are in good health, you can care for your loved one properly.  With the right knowledge, you can do this. Using the techniques, I have laid out in this article will help you to help your loved ones move around.  Overseeing your loved one’s care can cause you to stress because you can’t be in 2 places at one time: taking care of your business and taking care of your loved one. Look into hiring some help. This will give you the opportunity to get some rest and also make sure your loved one is properly cared for.  Or maybe you want to spend more time with your loved one while taking a break from some of the redundant business tasks like sending out emails, returning calls, or organizing files. Let’s chat about how I can be of service to you so you can take care of your business and your loved one.

 

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Body Mechanics

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