Safe patient handling for rehabilitation professionals

Rehabil Nurs. 2010 Sep-Oct;35(5):216-22. doi: 10.1002/j.2048-7940.2010.tb00050.x.


Every day, thousands of physical therapists and rehabilitation nurses are required to perform physically demanding therapeutic patient handling tasks that are stressful to the caregiver and increase his or her risk of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). In rehabilitation, patient handling tasks might be classified as"traditional" or "therapeutic."Traditional tasks have a practical goal, such as transferring a patient from bed to a wheelchair, and therapeutic tasks have more targeted goals such as facilitating patient function and independence. Therapeutic patient handling tasks present a greater risk for caregivers to sustain work-related MSDs than typical patient handling tasks do because caregivers are exposed to high mechanical loads on the spinal tissues for longer amounts of time. The Veterans Health Administration, Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, and the American Physical Therapy Association endorse the use of modern patient handling technology as part of a comprehensive safe patient handling program for providing therapy in rehabilitation settings. Information about patient handling technology that is effective in reducing the risk of work-related MSDs from performing therapeutic patient handling and movement tasks is also presented and discussed in this article.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty
  • Rehabilitation Nursing / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Transportation of Patients / methods*
  • United States
  • United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*