How to Manually Lift the Disabled

Written by stephanie kain
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How to Manually Lift the Disabled
Keep your back straight and bend your knees when lifting someone. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Manually lifting a person with a disability is a skill that requires training and practice. There are several common methods of manual lifts. If possible, observe a lift being performed before attempting one yourself. Correct technique is important to prevent injury to both the lifter and the liftee.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Check the area and remove any obstacles that may trip you during the lift. Ensure that the liftee is seated directly next to the area to which he is being lifted. Approach the liftee and let him know that you will be assisting him in a manual lift. Determine which type of lift is required. Common lifts include a one-person lift: usually for persons under 22.7 Kilogram; two-person top-and-bottom lifts and two-person side-to-side lifts.

  2. 2

    For a one-person lift from a wheelchair to another surface, stand to the side of the person in the wheelchair. Bend your knees, ensuring that your back remains straight. Put your dominant hand around the liftee's back, holding him securely under the arm. Scoop your other arm under the liftee's knees, holding him securely at the thigh. Count to three to prepare the liftee and stand up. Move your feet rather than twisting your body to set the liftee down on another surface.

  3. 3

    For a two-person top and bottom lift, you will need a second lifter. The taller or stronger person stands to the side of the person in a wheelchair. The shorter lifter stands at the feet, facing the other lifter. The person on top hugs the liftee from behind, grasping the wrists of the liftee, whose arms are crossed over his chest. The lifter on the bottom will bend her knees, and grasp the liftee by his thighs, making sure to bear weight on her forearms rather than her wrists. Count to three and move the liftee in one fluid motion from one surface to the next.

  4. 4

    For a two person side-to-side lift, each lifter should be the same size and strength. Stand to one side of the person in a wheelchair. Bend your knees and put one arm around the back of the liftee and one arm under the thigh. The other lifter adopts the same position. Ensure you have a good grip on top. If not, an alternative grip for a liftee who is strong in the upper body is to grasp him by the top of the arm rather than around the back. Coordinate the lift by counting to three and lift smoothly from one surface to another.

Tips and warnings

  • Some types of lifts work better in different situations. For transferring from a wheelchair to a pool deck, the side-to-side lift has advantages. For transferring from one flat surface to another, often the top and bottom lift works better.
  • Listen to the person if he is able to tell you which lift to use.
  • Never lift a person with a disability by an arm or a leg, as you could break a bone or dislocate a joint. Always make sure to lift the person by a strong area of the body, keeping the person secure during the transfer.
  • Persons over 45.4 Kilogram require a mechanical lift. Attempting to lift them manually could result in injury.

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