Mark E. SmithThink back to rehab or therapy for a moment. No matter if you have an acquired disability or were disabled from birth, all of us who use wheelchairs have been schooled in “Transfers 101.” Whether independent or assisted, transfers are a part of our daily lives. In some cases, they’re easy and safe; in others, difficult and dangerous. So, what are the latest innovations — tools of the trade — that are allowing smoother, safer transfers?

The Transfer Board Reinvented.
If you went through rehab 40 years ago or 4 months ago, you know the almighty “transfer board.” Yes, that sanded, sealed, slippery 30-inch long piece of maple wood that creates a bridge to slide your bottom from, say, the bed to your wheelchair. Indeed, the transfer board is a proven design, but also a precarious one. The same slick surface that helps you slide can also slide from where you want it, making a less-than-secure transfer.

Accessible Designs, Inc., recognized the benefits and limitations to the traditional transfer board and decided to address the shortcomings. The ADI Anti-Slip Transfer Board begins with a .5-inch thick wood base, with multiple sealant coats for a slick, durable transfer surface. On the bottom, however, it features a non-slip pad, so it adheres to the surface it’s placed on and dramatically reduces the chance of shifting while in use. Rather that blunt ends, ADI tapers them, so that not only is it easier for you to slide on and off, but the tapered ends also reduce pressure points. To finish its refinements, ADI offers multiple hand-hold cut-outs, including a pattern specifically for quads. The ADI Anti-Slip Transfer Board is available in 21, 24, and 29-inch lengths, and is available on its website at prices ranging from $38 to $42.

A Quick Lift

That white arm connects to a sling that can make vehicle-to-wheelchair pivots easier.

That white arm connects to a sling that can make vehicle-to-wheelchair pivots easier.

Some transfers are simply too difficult for a transfer board or conventional methods, such as transferring into an unmodified vehicle or utility vehicle (UTV). For applications where a very compact, affordable, portable hoist-type lift is needed, Pride Mobility Products offers the Milford Person Lift. The Milford Person Lift features a sling and powered boom arm that easily mounts in a receiver or portable base. For example, if you need to routinely transfer into a vehicle or UTV, a quick-release base mounts in the vehicle, and the 18-pound lift simply drops in. In your wheelchair, you sit on a sling that connects to the lift arm, and at the touch of a button, it raises and pivots you into the vehicle or UTV seat. The lift is then easily removed and stored. Quick-release bases can be mounted in multiple vehicles, or a rolling base can be used for transfers throughout the home environment. The Milford Person Lift has a weight capacity of 330 pounds and is available with sling options for varying conditions and sizes.

A Bed Where Needed
The most routine transfer is often the toughest — in and out of bed. What makes a bed transfer among the most challenging is that while a lower bed can be easier to transfer into for many (gravity helps!), a higher bed can help toward transferring back into your wheelchair. Indeed, it’s often just a few inches of height difference that can make bed-to-wheelchair transferring a breeze or a bear.

Assured Comfort solves bed transfer height issues with its Hi-Lo height-adjustable model. With a memory foam mattress, the Assured Comfort Hi-Lo lowers to 22 inches, which is the height of many power wheelchairs with a seat cushion. This allows a very flush transfer. However, the bed then adjusts in height from 22 to 34 inches, and can be set anywhere in-between. In this way, one can raise the bed for gravity-assisted or standing-pivot transfers back into one’s wheelchair.

What’s more, the Assured Comfort Hi-Lo features full rehab capabilities in adjusting the sleep surface angles for positioning, comfort and care, including raising the head, knees and feet independently. While the Assured Comfort Hi-Lo has all of the functionality of a hospital bed, one would never recognize it as such. Each Assured Comfort Hi-Lo bed is made per order, allowing the choice of very stylish headboards and upholstery colors. Available from twin to king sizes, the Assured Comfort Hi-Lo bed is purchased directly from the manufacturer.

Transferring Smarter, Safer
When it comes to transferring, we can often just assume the risks and struggles. However, whether it’s an innovative transfer board, affordable transfer lift or a height-adjustable bed, finding technologies to make transferring easier and safer is a smart move to make.

Resources
• Anti-Slip Transfer Board; Accessible Designs, Inc., adirides.com; 888/684-2234
• Hi-Lo adjustable bed; Assured Comfort, assuredcomfortbed.com; 866/852-2337
• Portable Milford Person Lift; Pride Mobility Products, www.pridemobility.com; 800/800-8586