Types of Patient Lifts

A patient lift is used to transport immobile patients to and from a bed, wheelchair, shower, or toilet. There are different varieties of patient lifts that are used in hospitals, nursing homes, and private residents by caregivers to help patients with varying degrees of mobility challenges.

About Patient Lifts

The quality of patient lifts has greatly improved over the years. Newer models are designed for greater efficiency, maneuverability, and maximum patient assistance. Consequently, the cost varies based on the design and the included features.

Earlier patient lifts were sometimes problematic due to a higher center of gravity that would sometimes tip over and place the patient in a precarious position. Modern patient lifts are designed for better safety, cost, and convenience for both the patient and the caregiver.

Different Types of Patient Lifts

Patient lifts are now designed for maximum efficiency and will vary depending on the role that they are meant to play in the patient’s life. Mobile floor lifts will be different from stationary overhead ceiling lifts, for example. On the other hand, hydraulic or manual power lifts will be different from electric patient lifts.

Manual Lifts

This is the most basic type of patient lift. It uses a crank to lift and lower the patient safely, and since it’s manually powered it will not require batteries or an alternative source of power. 

Power Lifts

Powered lifts are electrically powered and are also referred to as electric or battery lifts. They require an electric motor that is DC powered, AC powered, or battery powered.

Battery powered lifts are usually larger, but smaller and more portable designs are available.

Bath Lifts

Bath lifts help a patient move in and out of a bathtub without assistance. They come in handy when a shower may not be the best option for a patient. Inflatable bath lifts in particular offer dignity, privacy, and independence to seniors in need. A powered cushion-style bath lift inflates in seconds, offering a portable and convenient storing option.

If the patient has reasonable upper body strength, they can get in and out of the tub without much support apart from the bath lift. Most bath lifts will offer lumbar support to allow the user to adjust their sitting position. 

Pillow Lifts

Pillow lifts are designed to help bedridden patients raise the upper part of their bodies. They come with air-filled back support devices that help the user adjust their position in bed at the press of a button. This allows the user to move into a seated position using their upper body and core strength, for example.

The pillow lift is placed at the top of the mattress and the air compressor will inflate it when powered. The user will be elevated to a comfortable sitting position with stable support. 

Emergency Inflatable Lifts

This type of lift is designed to help a caregiver lift a person with a disability off the floor after they’ve fallen down. They can also be used at home to play the same role. Inflatable emergency lifts may also be used independently by the patient if they are in a position to help themselves. Usually, inflatable emergency lifts can be used securely at home.

These types of lifts are inflated easily with a portable compressor and can provide a stable lift for up to 700 pounds. They come with a compact design and can be easily stored away when not in use. 

Hydraulic Patient Lifts

Hydraulic lifts can either be manual or powered by hydraulic fluid. They require minimal cranking energy, which makes it easy to use them to elevate a patient. Hydraulic patient lifts are becoming increasingly more popular and have become the standard.

Sit to Stand Lifts

This patient lift helps move a patient from a sitting position to a standing one. They are also referred to as “stand-up lifts.” 

Stand-up lifts use straps or belts, but the individual uses their own strength to pull themselves up. Most of the time they are compact and will fit into narrow doorways, and they are smaller and cost less than standard lifts.

Heavy-Duty Lifts

Heavy duty lifts are also known as bariatric lifts. As the name suggests, they are designed for heavy duty use to accommodate individuals weighing more than 500 pounds. They are made with heavy gauge steel and are very wide. They have larger casters to support the heavier loads, and some of them come with a 6-point cradle for increased stability.

Pool Lifts

Pool lifts help people with limited mobility get into and out of pools. Aqua therapy has a lot to offer to seniors and people recovering from disabling conditions, so these lifts allow them to take advantage of these benefits. 

Wheelchair Lifts

Wheelchair lifts are like mini elevators that transport people on wheelchairs from one level to the next. They require electrical power to operate as well as regular maintenance. 

Lift Slings

This is a manual type of patient lift that uses slings to hold and stabilize the patient during the lifting process. The sling is connected to a cradle that directly supports the patient. 

How to Choose a Patient Lift

Given the numerous types of patient lifts, how do you go about selecting the right one?

There are a couple of considerations that you will need to make. Ideally, you should select a lift that meets your needs while ensuring maximum safety and convenience. The following are some of the factors that you should consider:

Weight Limit

Patient lifts will have different weight limits. Find out the maximum weight capacity of the patient lift and see if it accommodates your needs.

Transfer Pathway

This is the mechanism of transfer of the patient lift. Simple transfers from a bed to a wheelchair or vice versa can be carried out by most patient lifts. At the same time, complex maneuvers will require patient lifts that are designed to steer in any direction. 

The Caregiver

The caregiver’s health and strength are often overlooked but they play a crucial role when selecting a patient lift. Find the lift that works best for both the caregiver as well as the patient so that there is no burnout and the patient can recover in the shortest time possible.