Now that we’ve covered the sling basics on how to select, inspect and apply slings, let’s take a closer look at the various sling styles.
As you may recall from the 5 Steps to Choosing the Right Sling for Patient Transfers, slings can be grouped into a few basic categories. There are slings for seated transfers, toileting, positioning, sit-to-stand, and walking.
Today’s blog will focus on the band sling, a small, versatile sling that is often under-utilized or overlooked. It’s designed to assist caregivers with tasks that involve lifting, supporting, and positioning of limbs.
So why is the Band Sling not often used? Is it the lack of awareness that this type of solution exists? Is it the uncertainty of how to use this sling style?
Or is it because we believe limbs are easy to lift and hold? After all, how heavy can a limb be
Well, let’s consider, in 2018, Stats Canada reported that 26.8% percent of adult Canadians were considered obese and 36.3% were overweight, increasing the risk of various medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and more. The trend in healthcare has seen the steady rise of heavier patients with complex care needs, couple this with aging caregivers and overall caregiving has become harder.
A quick Google search indicated that the average male weighs about 187 lbs. and the average female weighs roughly 155 lbs. So, how heavy are the limbs our caregivers are lifting?
Well, to roughly estimate the weight of limbs, the VA Safe Patient Handling app Safe Patient Handling | VA Mobile suggests using 16% of the individual’s body weight to calculate the lower extremity and 5% to calculate the upper extremity. Keep in mind that medical devices, casts, splints, or various medical conditions, for example lymphedema will increase the weight of the limb.
Given these guidelines, the lower extremity weight for the average male would be about 30 lbs. and almost 25lbs for the average female.
It seems like a weight anyone can lift, but can you lift a 25 or 30 lbs. limb frequently, while maintaining an awkward position, or bending and reaching over the bed with injury?
The 2007 article titled “When is it safe to manually lift a patient” by Thomas R Waters, recommended 35 lbs. as the maximum weight limit for manual lifting with the caveat that the lift needed to be performed under ideal conditions. In situations where the caregiver needed to lift with extended arms, off the floor, or from a seated or kneeling position the 35 lb. weight limit would need to be decreased. When a task required the caregiver to lift greater than 35 lbs. the recommendation was made to use safe patient handling solutions. For limbs that require lifting and weighed greater than 35 lbs. a band sling could be the solution.
Limb lifting in healthcare oftentimes requires the arms to be extended while providing care or being in awkward positions, which sets both the caregiver and patient up for a potential injury. Given that these situations are not ideal, how much weight can be manually lifted if we cannot or do not want to use a band sling?
A paper from 2009 titled “Recommended Weight Limits for Lifting and Holding Limbs in the Orthopedic Practice Setting” provided insight into this question. The authors of the paper developed an easy-to-use limb lifting tool for orthopedic clinicians in the form of a chart. This visual aid provides body mass ranges, limb weight estimates, maximum limb lift weights and maximum limb hold times. This tool could also prove to be helpful in other settings where caregivers need to lift and hold limbs for various caregiving tasks.
The guideline suggests that a maximum weight for a one-handed limb lift should not exceed 11.1 lbs. and a 2 handed lift should not exceed 22.2lbs. If we consider the average male and female lower limb weights given these guidelines, manually lifting these limbs should not be performed without either additional help or with the use of a safe patient handling solution like a band sling.
The tool also provides recommendations regarding weight limits when holding the limb up for 1, 2 and 3 minutes at a time.
Now given what we know, if we can potentially reduce the risk of caregiver injury from lifting limbs manually and at the same time provide a safe, comfortable, supportive, and dignified limb lift for the patient, the Band Sling is worth a try.
If you are interested in learning more about our Band Sling or to demo it, feel free to connect with us at Handicare.
At Handicare we strive to make everyday life easier.
What tools do you use to activate individuals? Many times, we rush to complete a transfer and don’t think of how they can assist. During this session we will look at the many ways a band/limb sling can be utilized through the continuum of care.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022 @ 2:00pm EST
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