Transferring a patient from one surface to another; also referred as transfers is an essential part of patient care. In physical therapy, it is also a measurable goal in a patient’s plan of care. A physical therapist and or occupational therapist are trained to assess the best option to transfer a patient. Initially, transferring a patient is for the purposes of reducing the risk of secondary impairments and/or diseases resulting from the deconditioning that results from immobility. Later, transfer training is implemented with the specific goal of improving a patient’s independence.
Let’s explore the first reason for transfers; To Improve mobility and independence.
Considering that every patient has a baseline activity level, also referred to the prior level of function; interventions provided by the physical and occupational therapist are to restore the patient’s mobility to this level of performance. Nonetheless, the prior level of function may not be optimal for activities of daily living, in which case, therapists will try to improve the baseline to improve functional movement and safety while moving. In essence, the goal of therapy is to improve the current mobility status of a patient to suit a patient’s social, recreational, employment role. Also, the goal is to restore the patient to their baseline function.
In hospitals, where patients are typically being treated for an acute illness, the goal of therapy is to one, prevent or retard physical mobility complications like weakness and loss of range of motion. In addition, the goal is to improve function by addressing muscle weakness, treating wounds, educating patients how to safely mobilize and assessing their ability to perform activities of daily living safely. Lastly, the goal of therapy is to determine the most appropriate discharge location given the patient’s medical diagnosis, prognosis, current presentation, social support, and cognitive state. Therapists work closely with physicians, case managers, and social workers to determine the discharge location that is most appropriate for a patient.