Tips & Advice

Safe Lifting with the SoloLift

December 29, 2010 by Lori Potts, PT

PT Kathy Caldwell adjusts the strap on the SoloVest for her patient Sarah which will allow for safe liftingSubmitted by: Kathy Caldwell, PT
Metzenbaum Adult Services
Chesterland OH

Metzenbaum Residence is an Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR) and is located on the Metzenbaum Center grounds along with the sheltered workshop and school. The ICF/MR provides housing units for 40 individuals. These individuals receive full-time medical needs care and active treatment programs for improving or developing skills with which to move into community-based residential settings.

Sarah came to our facility two years ago. Sarah has mental retardation and is nonverbal, but she expresses her wishes clearly with “behavior.” When she first came to us she was ambulatory, but shortly thereafter became sick and was admitted to the hospital. She returned from the hospital with a feeding tube, weak, and unable to walk.

To prevent further physical decline, we began walking her daily with two staff (one on either side). As her health improved, Sarah became mischievous and her behavior kicked in. Sarah has a lazy streak and prefers to sit in her wheelchair all day. It took coaxing to have Sarah transition between activities, especially getting up to walk or to use the toilet. Usually she didn’t want to do these activities, so she would take a few steps and then fling herself. Although only 5’4” and 140lbs, she sure knew how to throw her weight around and quickly discovered she could knock around the caregivers including the big guys on the staff.

Sarah was smart and realized that if she “acted up” enough she would get her way and be allowed to stay in the wheelchair. One day she took out three caregivers with a shoulder, back, and a neck injury. It’s hard enough to recruit people to work with those with mental retardation and now we were losing people secondary to injuries.

Because of concern over staff injuries, a special team meeting was called to discuss Sarah’s care. That is when I thought of the SoloLift and told the team about it. We agreed to try Sarah in the SoloLift and it worked!

The SoloLift easily lifts Sarah while Physical Therapist Kathy Caldwell guides the transferIt is much easier to toilet Sarah now because the SoloVest holds her in a secure position and the lift assists with sit to stand transfers. She remains in the vest while her hygiene care is attended to. Transitions have definitely become much easier. On a very “agitated” day we can use the leg straps and that works well.

Since we started using the SoloLift, whether the transfer is for toileting, or moving from sitting to standing, or lifting Sarah into a mini-van to go on outings, there have been no staff injuries related to Sarah’s care.

Sarah’s leg strength is improving and her overall mental function seems improved as well! In fact, she is progressing so well that we no longer even need to use the SoloLift for every transfer, and I see the day coming when she’ll be ready to ambulate more.

Because we could bypass her behavioral issues, the best of her personality could shine through!

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