We have a student who walks only a few feet and refuses to sit in her wheelchair. We are working on a behavior program for compliance. I am afraid to try a mechanical Lift; if she struggles, she could come out of the sling. What do you think? She can unfasten any seat belt mechanism and slides out if it has a safety lock on it.
Lillian Bray, PT
Knox County Schools
While we believe it’s possible to suggest an effective solution, we must caution you in advance to avoid portraying any lift-and-sling combination as a restraining methodology. As you are no doubt aware, restraining devices are discouraged or prohibited in most educational, physical therapy, and healthcare situations.
The scenario you describe can be overcome, we believe, using a pliable polyester sling such as Liko’s Silouette Model 22. Once attached to the slingbar and properly tensioned, your student will find it exceedingly difficult to “escape” from this sling. This sling was originally designed for rehabilitation purposes with small children in mind, and its fabric has the advantages of breathability and porosity you may find useful. Here is an instruction sheet for your reference.
Note in particular the procedure for passing one leg strap through the other before criss-crossing them prior to attachment. Again, once you place tension on this sling as during a lifting procedure, there are no belts or buckles for your student to unfasten.
Also, as your question is written it appears that you might be intending to use the lift to suspend the student slightly above her wheelchair seat for short periods such as during times of behavioral issues. The lift is not intended to be used for that purpose. The manufacturer advises against leaving a person suspended in a sling for extended periods of time – certainly no longer than a few minutes – in order to avoid discomfort or circulatory problems.
Finally, we have provided a document showing various slings for pediatric applications in case you wish to investigate other alternatives.
The Lift Doctor*