Q. I am a heavyset woman with MS and usually do not have the ability to transfer by myself. I love to travel, but so often the equipment I need is not available in far-flung places. Can you recommend a few portable products that help with transferring, bathing and other activities of daily living?
A. There are several portable transfer devices available, but first a caveat about transfer methods: Current standards no longer support the use of the “quad pivot” transfer in hospitals or other medical settings, according to Kathy Dunn, MS, RN, CRRN, CNS-BC. This type of transfer, she explains, is inherently unsafe for caregivers and does not meet guidelines set by regulatory agencies such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Although there are lightweight and inexpensive pivot devices sold as travel aids, Dunn says users should consider safety first, noting that the Hoyer Advance, the LikoLight and the Molift Smart are portable options that provide safe transfers in line with the principles of “safe patient handling and movement.”
Many people do choose pivot lifts, however, and they continue to receive anecdotal support among some users. One that advertises in New Mobility is the ErgoTrans, which connects a strap that fits under your thighs with a traditional transfer belt, using a side-release buckle. Some say that extra leverage really makes a difference for attendants and family members. “Traditional gait belts ride up,” says Linda Charlton, a central England resident whose husband Frank has MS. “Having the thigh strap stops it riding up and it means I don’t have to grab Frank’s waistband.” Instead, there are plenty of handholds in that area. Before ErgoTrans, Frank spent the first days of vacations recovering from dislocated shoulders from being lifted improperly, but now he and Linda travel all over the world and use regular public transportation in every city they visit.A drawback to the ErgoTrans is that users cannot transfer without assistance, and the solo lifting technique, demonstrated on the product’s website, doesn’t always work with larger users. However, the technique can b