The manner in which a patient with a rotator cuff injury is handled will vary depending on the severity of the injury. If the injury is modest, then conventional lifting methods can be employed while avoiding placement of any undue stress on the shoulder joint. If the injury is severe (for example, you describe a broken rotator cuff), then measures should be taken to completely immobilize the area and lift the patient using an assistive device such as a full-body lift combined with a sling that will not place undue pressure on the joint. Bear in mind that healthcare workers can no longer rely on body mechanics alone for lifting, moving, or repositioning ANY patients, thus you should opt for a powered lift in this situation. From a practical perspective, one key is to assess the situation extensively before any transfer takes place. Include in your assessment an understanding the patientís ability to physically assist with the transfer, and their willingness to cooperate. Then determine the number of caregivers, type of equipment, and procedures to fit the task. Check the weight of the patient, the weight capacity of all equipment, slings, and other devices. Be sure you clear the area of obstacles. When lifting, make sure the bed and other equipment are adjusted to proper height, (waist or elbow height for the majority of caregivers participating in the task). Regarding selection of a sling, you should choose a sling that is: 1) sized correctly to avoid any rotation of the shoulder joint; 2) designed of a fabric that will provide support yet mold to the patientís body shape; 3) allows proper support of the shoulder and affected arm.
The Lift Doctor*