As part of Family Caregiver Month in November, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) shares lifting techniques to help home caregivers avoid sprain and strain while caring for their loved ones.

“Properly lifting your loved one is important to avoid back, neck and shoulder strains and injuries.

“Pulling a person into a seated position in bed is a common activity that may cause muscle strain, as well as transferring a person from a bed to a wheelchair and leaning over a person for extended periods of time. Understand your risk of injury, so you can avoid getting hurt, and use proper lifting techniques to help prevent these injuries.”

— Charla Fischer, MD, FAAOS, orthopaedic spine surgeon and AAOS spokesperson

Lift Properly for Bone and Joint Health

Whether assisting with daily living activities or more demanding medical and nursing tasks, Fischer stresses that caregivers use proper lifting techniques to help keep bones and joints healthy.

To avoid injury when helping a person move to a wheelchair from lying down in bed, first, put the chair close to the bed and ensure the wheels are locked. Place one arm under the person’s legs and your other arm under their back. Move the person’s legs over the edge of the bed while pivoting their body and keep a strong stance with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees bent and your back in a natural straight position.

“Never lift more than you can handle.

“Do not twist when lifting to avoid back strain. Face the person and hold them close to you, lean back and shift your weight or pivot direction if necessary. Take your time and don’t rush. Lifting belts can help for these types of movements.”

— Charla Fischer, MD, FAAOS

Lifting Recommendations from AAOS

In addition to resources on patient education and its Prevent Injuries America! campaign, the AAOS recommends the following lifting techniques for home caregivers:

  • Keep your head and neck in proper alignment with your spine; your head, neck, and back should be as straight as possible.
  • Maintain the natural curve of your spine; bend with your hips and knees, rather than from your back.
  • Avoid twisting your body when carrying a person.
  • Always keep the person who is being moved close to your body.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart to maintain your balance.
  • Use the muscles in your legs to lift and/or pull.

[Source(s): American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, PR Newswire]

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