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Orthopedics: Using lifts with total hip and total knee patients

Question

Are there any sit to stand or sling lifts that are safe to use on total hip or total knee patients that are fresh post-ops?

Lisa Clinton
St. Margaret's


Answer

Dear Lisa:

Assuming you have received approval from the physician in charge of each individual patient, most contemporary assistive lifts would qualify as being "safe" to use with total hip replacements or total knee replacements. The Lift Doctor believes "sling selection" is a critically important issue you must address in order to ensure a safe solution however.

Hip Replacement
Depending on the prosthesis involved, one of the problems that might arise soon after hip replacement surgery is hip dislocation. Because the artificial ball and socket may be smaller than the patient's original, the ball can possibly be dislodged from the socket under certain conditions. The most problematic position usually is pulling the knees up to the chest and letting the leg cross the midline of the patient's body. To guard against this possibility, the sling you select should allow a hip angle of no more than 90 degrees flexion. Moreover, you would be well advised to choose a sling with separate leg supports or place a pillow between the patient's knees to prevent his legs from crossing the midline.

Knee Replacement
If a total body lift needs to be performed on a knee replacement patient, virtually any properly fit sling should be acceptable. If, on the other hand, you wish to provide ambulation assistance using an overhead or mobile floor lift, you should consider using lift pants or a safety vest. For example, the safety vest would enable the patient to walk, without fear of falling, while placing less than full body weight on the knee. This solution might be required for heavier than normal patients or those experiencing balance difficulties. If a sit-to-stand lift is used, take precautions against the lower leg support causing undue stress on the new knee.

Stay Safe,
THE LIFT DOCTOR*