October 12, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
The role of caregiver is a noble task, and we know it’s not an easy one. It can be quite a challenge to support the needs of someone who may have recently lost their ability to do what were formerly simple, routine daily tasks. It shouldn’t be surprising that many patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries (SCI) are prone to anxiety, depression, and in some cases, even despair, and this can take its toll on your emotional state as well. In addition, your role will call upon you for a lot of physical exertion, and it’s not at all uncommon for caregivers to suffer muscle strain and other injuries. There are, however, some tools which will help with your work. Here are some which may be effective to decrease caregiver strain:
1. Transfer Boards
As you probably already know, it’s not easy for patients with paralysis to do what’s known as “transferring”, moving in and out of their wheelchair to get to their bed, the toilet, bath, etc. Transfer boards are extremely useful to facilitate the patient’s transfer, with much less risk of injury or strain to either the patient or the caregiver. They’re available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and material, to suit the needs of the patient’s particular condition and the transfers they need to make. The point of all of these is that they serve to support the patient’s weight, making the transfer less frustrating, less riskier, as well as to decrease strain and injury to the caregiver.
2. Anti-Tipping Devices
Modern wheelchairs are much safer and more stable than their older counterparts from previous generations, but they’re still not completely foolproof. If there’s one thing that you don’t want to have happen as a caregiver, it’s seeing your patient’s wheelchair tipping over. It’s dangerous, to say the least. And without these mechanical aids, it can be a constant effort for you as caregiver to keep the wheelchair stabilized. I don’t even want to get into the details of what would happen if your patient actually did end up on the floor, possibly with the wheelchair on top of them, but we know that it would be dangerous for them, and hard work for you to right the wheelchair and lift the patient back into his or her seat. There are different types of anti-tippers, which extend either from the front or rear of the wheelchair, serving as a safeguard to prevent the chair from tipping over. Many experienced wheelchair users find that anti-tippers restrict their mobility and prefer not to use them, but they obviously have value for both patient safety and to decrease caregiver strain, especially for new wheelchair users.
3. Lifting Support
Much of the strain and potential injury for caregivers of patients with paralysis comes from the many times that you’ll need to lift the patient for various purposes, including transferring in and out of bed, going to the bathroom, and so on. There are numerous devices of different types and various styles to support patients, and to allow them to lift themselves using their upper arms and torso (assuming that their paralysis has left them command of those parts of their body). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention in this discussion or own Pants Up Easy products. These were designed after our founder, Douglas Pearson, noticed that it was extremely difficult and time-consuming for his friend, a wheelchair user, to pull his pants back up after going to the bathroom. These devices allow patients to lift themselves from a sitting position on the toilet or wheelchair, while leaving their hands free to pull up their pants. It’s a tremendous quality of life improvement for the patient, and certainly decreases strain and the risk of other injuries for both patient and caregiver.