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PTA Blog Talk

Being Physical

Published March 10, 2009 12:47 PM by Jason Marketti
I see some "heavy" patients.  By heavy I mean they are difficult to position and transfer; some require two people to transfer from the mat to the wheelchair and back. 

The aide and myself have a pretty good routine when doing this and we ensure we are properly positioned prior to the transfers.  Every once in a while it doesn't go as smoothly as we like but we manage to get the patient safely from one place to another. 

So, guess what? The PT decides to transfer the patient with that same aide.  Now I am not the most agile person, nor the strongest, but if we are in a profession that requires us to lift, pull, push, etc., we should either develop techniques to allow us to perform these skills or have brute strength to overcome the obstacles.

I watched the PT and aide struggle going from the mat to the wheelchair on a slide board and it dawned on me, we are in PHYSICAL therapy, and therefore should be able to perform skills that are physical in nature.  I tell people if they are not able to transfer certain patients they are in the wrong field.  Maybe this is wrong to say, but what if they injure the patient and themselves trying to do something they are not able to handle?

After watching multiple attempts, I offered a bit of help and we were able to get the patient into the wheelchair. Then I got to thinking. 

If a PT decides to set up goals that require a patient to sit on a mat for trunk stability, I assume transfers and balance were assessed and demonstrated at the evaluation or re-assessment period so that a further assessment can be made to determine if the patient is improving. Based on this assumption, this was not the first time the patient was transferred by the PT. 

Either the patient got heavier in the day since I saw him or transfer skills need to be improved for patient safety.          


Every PT and PTA has been trained in proper transfer techniques.  I agree that it should be a safe assumption that for a therapist to assess transfers they have to do one with the patient.  Sometimes it is laziness on the part of the PT on eval or PTA on a treatment, other times it is incompetence or inability.  Not everyone finished near the top of their class.

Doug March 27, 2009 2:35 PM

i totally agree, those who lack in transfer skills should address these poor skills asap. a therapist should be able to perform their job with safety for the patient and themselves. i have seen soooooo many therapist who lack these necessary skills to do their jobs. i have often wonder was this lack of skill due to just plain laziness. for a therapist to practice for 20 years and still not be ignorant of these skills is just sinful.

texas rochon March 27, 2009 12:22 AM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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