If your child cannot stand up to move from bed to a wheelchair, you can use a sliding board. A sliding board is also called a transfer board. Your child’s physical therapist will tell you if your child needs a sliding board.
Reasons to use a sliding board
The best way to keep the lungs strong is to sit up as much as possible. This also stops mucus from building up in the lungs.
Using a wheelchair lets your child spend time outside the room. This makes life more interesting and enjoyable for your child.
Using a sliding board can help your child’s muscles get stronger because the child may be able to help with moving.
Prepare to use the sliding board
Before you start:
Make sure your child’s bed cannot move. If it has wheels, lock them.
Make sure your child is clean and dry.
Put rubber-soled shoes or grip socks on your child to keep their feet from sliding during the move. If the physical therapist showed you how to use a gait belt, put it on your child.
Make sure your child is wearing something that protects their legs and seat. Or use a transfer sheet. This protects your child’s skin from being rubbed or pinched during the transfer.
If your child’s feet do not reach the floor, get a stool to use during the move.
Get an adult helper if your child is adult-sized, cannot move, cannot help you move them, or if you are not sure you can move your child yourself.
Get the wheelchair ready:
Put the wheelchair close to the bed on your child’s stronger side. For example, if your child’s right side is stronger, put the wheelchair on the right side of the bed.
Lock the wheels.
Put a transfer pad on the seat.
Remove the wheelchair arm and leg rests. Place the wheelchair next to the bed.
Get your child ready:
Slide a transfer pad under your child’s hips while they are lying in bed.
Help your child roll on their side facing the wheelchair. Then help your child sit up. Your child’s feet should be flat on the floor or on a stool if they do not touch the floor.
How to move your child to a wheelchair
When your child is sitting on the edge of the bed:
1. Have your child lean away from the wheelchair, holding themself up with their arms. You can hold your child’s sides and shoulders to help them stay in a sitting position.
2. Lift your child’s leg on the side by the wheelchair. Next, your helper should put one end of the sliding board under your child’s hips and thigh.
3. Help your child sit up straight on the board. Leaning forward a little is OK.
4. Stand in front of your child. Hold their sides if they cannot sit up without help. Put your knees in front of your child’s knees to help keep them from sliding forward.
5. Have your child put one hand on the sliding board. If your child cannot do this, keep your child’s hands in their lap.
When your child is on the sliding board:
1. Have your helper use the transfer pad, gait belt, or both to slide your child gently across the board to the wheelchair. Move a little at a time so your child stays calm and comfortable.
2. Keep holding your child in a sitting position during the move.
3. When your child gets to the wheelchair, ask them to hold the armrest and pull themself into the wheelchair. If your child cannot do this, gently slide them onto the pad in the wheelchair.
4. Have your child lean on the armrest while you pull out the sliding board and the first transfer pad. Leave one transfer pad in the wheelchair under your child.
5. Replace the wheelchair arm and leg rest.
Wheelchair safety and comfort tips:
Make sure your child’s hips are all the way back in the wheelchair.
Do not let your child sit in one position the entire time they are in the wheelchair. Changing positions helps stop skin breakdown and pressure ulcers. See Pressure Injuries to learn more.
If your child can lift themself to change positions, have them do this.
If your child’s wheelchair tilts, you can tilt it to change your child’s position. Ask the physical therapist how often to do this.
How to move your child back to bed
Get an adult helper if you need one.
1. Take off the wheelchair arm and leg rests on your child’s stronger side. Put that side of the wheelchair next to the bed. If your child uses a gait belt, put it on now.
2. Have your child lean on the armrest while you slide the sliding board under their hip and thigh.
3. Have your child put one hand on the sliding board, if possible. Hold your child’s sides or shoulders and put your knees in front of your child’s knees. This helps keep your child sitting up during the move.
4. Have your helper use the transfer pad, gait belt, or both to slide your child across the board.
5. When your child gets to the edge of the bed, pull the sliding board out by having your child lean on one side. Then, have your child lean on their arms to lie down on one side. Move your child’s legs back on the bed. Roll your child gently onto their back.
Safety and Comfort Tips
Always keep your back straight and your knees bent when moving your child.
Only use a wheelchair with removable arm and leg rests. Taking off the arm and leg rests lets you put the sliding board in the best position to move your child safely.
Tell your child how to move their arms and legs in each step of the move, if possible. By helping with the move, your child gets stronger and gains independence.