How To Effectively Learn Body Mechanics and Transferring Right

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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.”

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. When misused, it performs badly and eventually breaks down.

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 the Patient

  • 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.

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

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

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.

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 the patient is too large. 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 the patient.

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 the patient.
  • Go through the entire movement with the patient before starting
  • Know where you are taking the patient
  • 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 patient 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 load before lifting
  • Bend knees and keep back straight; set object down slowly 

Bed-Bound Patients Effects of Immobility

Patients who spend long periods in bed 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 a Patient’s Position in Bed

 If a patient 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 the patient can help.

For patients who are unable to help with the move, a regular draw sheet or a flat sheet that has been folded into fourths and placed under the patient may be used. The plan for a patient who is unable to move will include a schedule for turning the patient every two hours. A patients’ position must be changed at least every two hours in order to prevent complications that arise from immobility. Each time you turn your patient, 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 a beginning decubitus ulcer.

Raising Patients’ Head and Shoulders in a Hospital Bed
  1. Explain what you are going to do
  2. Wash your
  3. Provide privacy
  4. Raise the bed to convenient working
  5. Lock wheels on the bed, or push bed against the wall if there are no
  6. Lower rail on side of the bed where you are working
  7. Lower head of the bed, remove pillows and fold back top
  8. Stand to face the bed, feet about 12 inches apart
  9. Ask the patient to place near arm under your near arm and shoulder. Patients’ hand should reach to your shoulder
  10. Slip your farthest arm under patients’ 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 patient to a semi-sitting position
  12. Support patient with the arm locked under shoulder, use another arm to remove or readjust the pillow
  13. Assist patient 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 top sheet
  15. Place bed in the lowest position.  Raise side rail, if indicated
  16. Wash your hands

Moving the Patient Up in Bed when They Can Help

 There are many reasons that a patient 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
  3. Provide privacy
  4. Raise the bed to a convenient working height
  5. Lock wheels on the bed, or push 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 patients’ head; remove pillows
  8. Prop one pillow against the headboard.  This will protect the patient from hitting their head when moving up.
  9. Stand facing the head of bed, feet 12 inches apart
  10. Slip one arm under patients’ shoulders, the other under the patients’ thighs
  11. Instruct patient to bend their knees, and firmly place feet against the mattress. On a signal from you, the patient will push with feet and hands to assist with the move up in bed.
  12. Help the patient 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 patient 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 the Patient Up in Bed when They Cannot Help 

  1. Explain what you are going to do
  2. Wash your hands
  3. Provide privacy
  4. Raise the bed to a convenient working height
  5. Lock wheels on the bed, or push 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 patients’ head; remove pillows
  8. Prop one pillow against the headboard. This will protect the patient from hitting their head when moving up.
  9. Be sure the patient has a turning sheet in position under the patients’ body
  10. Keep 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 patients’ head
  13. Firmly grasp the tip of turning sheet in both hands
  14. Use good body mechanics—bend knees and hips, keep back straight
  15. On the count of three, shift your weight from front leg to back leg, pulling turning sheet and patient 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 patient is in good body alignment.  Replace top sheet and pillow
  19. Replace the bed in its lowest position and raise rails, if needed
  20. Wash your hands

 

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