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How to Move Someone Who Can’t Move Their Legs With One Finger (almost!)

How to Move Someone Who Can’t Move Their Legs With One Finger (almost!)

I know! It seems a ridiculous notion.  A breezy little flick of the wrist and you’ve moved a care recipient to the side of the bed.  Impossible.  Actually, not so impossible. Manual handling – the art of moving a patient without incurring the strain on the caregiver’s body is just that: an art.  There are a range of skills and tricks.  Unfortunately, what we see every day is load bearing.  Lifting.  Pushing.  Pulling.  Struggling. Ultimately, injuring.  The rate of injury is far too high amongst the caregiving population and the impact of that injury can lead to reduced mobility, pain, surgical intervention and a range of psychological impacts, including depression.  Many researchers have delved into this topic: caregivers and their injuries.  Back injuries and other musculoskeletal injuries are prevalent.  Many studies, unsurprisingly, found that the greater the patient dependency, the greater the risk to the caregiver.  That couldn’t be more true when you are dealing with someone who has limited ability to move their legs.  The simple message is: if you have the skills, then you mitigate injury exponentially. But it is understandable that the notion of moving a patient who has limited, if any, capacity to provide assistance seems outside the range of a few manual handling tricks.  There seems no getting around the fact that the patient’s weight, at some point will need to be borne to make that move.  Like true caregivers, that fact is simply accepted and the weight is borne.     This is not like some of the other techniques that we’ve shown you.  For example, the purpose of an on-bed screen is to ascertain whether your caree’s mobility status had changed.  In the case where they cannot move their legs, you already know that status.  But some of the principles are the same, and certainly the concept of risk management is central to all of the content that we’ve covered on manual handling.  Ascertaining what the risk is to you to perform a given task is so key.  It will protect both you and your care recipient.  This task is no different.  If there is marked immobility or incapacity for your patient to move their legs, you must use this technique. Also, do not forget the importance of correct postures when using this technique.   This technique does require some skill and will need you to perform some degree of lifting.  Done correctly, that weight is minimal.  However, correct postures are essential here.   This is a simple strategy, but requires some practice.  It also requires a little piece of equipment that will change your world: the humble SMART Sheet (Slide Sheet)!  There are a previous  Nurse on the Go Videos that will help you understand how best to use this little thing: How to Fold A Slide Sheet.  But for using this in a incredibly useful way,this a great technique and it is contained within our "People Moving People" learning package.

Proper Lifting Technique

People Moving People – 8 ways to proper lifting technique

To learn this technique and more on safe manual handling, back care and proper lifting technique, take a look at our learning package that is designed for informal caregivers.  The spouses and daughters and family friends who are out in our community delivering incredible care to someone in need are the ones that need just as much education about protecting their back from injury and their care recipient from falls as anyone in the caregiving game!  A series of video demonstrations that provide simple How-To’s on the best ways to proper lifting technique.  Available now for A$149


1. Purchase by clicking the “Buy Now” button through the secure network, PayPal, using your credit card. Note that PayPal is a highly secure way to pay for products online and comes with protection against identify theft, fraud protection and protection for your purchases.

2. After payment, you’ll be taken to the “Register” page to set up your username & password.

3. Then you will be redirected to the Log In page to access the learning package using the username & password you have just set up

4. Click the “People Moving People” graphic and that will take you to the eLearning program

5. Note that you can come back at any time to review material. The Table of Contents on the left hand side will always be there to help you navigate to the exact video or piece of information that you are seeking for that very caregiving problem you are having

Buy Now


Shannon L. Jones MA, Heather D. Hadjistavropoulos PhD, Jennifer A. Janzen MA, Thomas Hadjistavropoulos PhD (2011) “Relation of Pain and Caregiver Burden in Informal Older Adult Caregiver” Pain Medicine 12 (1) 51-58
Ribeiro, Sânzia Bezerra1, Cárdia, Maria Claudia Gatto2, Almeida, Lais Cristina(2012) “Biomechanical and organizational risk and prevalence of low back pain in the old adults caregivers of a nursing home in Joao Pessoa” Work 41: 1933-1939.
Pinquart, Martin; Silvia Sörensen (2007) “Correlates of Physical Health of Informal Caregivers: A Meta-Analysis” The Journals of Gerontology62(2): 126-37.

Nic Nash-Arnold has been nursing for twenty years. She has nursed thousands of patients, mainly in the operating theatre. Nicole has worked in both public and private hospitals in Queensland. Ten years ago, she left the “coal face” of nursing and moved into a Nurse Educator role and then a series of senior and executive hospital administration roles. Nic has always believed in the empowerment with education. That might be empowering nurses to provide better care or patients to take better care, but education is always the centre of the solution. Google 

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