Effects of patient turning devices on biomechanical stresses were evaluated.
Air-assisted devices were effective to reduce stresses of low back and shoulders.
Turning toward task showed lower stresses of the shoulders than turning away task.
This laboratory study evaluated different assistive devices for reducing biomechanical loading during patient turning tasks. Twenty caregivers (18 females and 2 males) performed standardized patient turning tasks with two simulated patients (body mass: 74 kg and 102 kg). The turning tasks were performed in two turning directions (toward vs. away relative to caregivers) using five device conditions: draw sheet, friction-reducing turning sheet, air-assisted transfer device, air-assisted turning device, and no assistive device. Low back and upper extremity muscle activity, trunk and shoulder postures, low back moment, and self-reported usability ratings were evaluated. While all assistive devices reduced trunk flexion, both air-assisted transfer and turning devices reduced the trunk flexion (p's < 0.001) and muscle activity (p's < 0.001) in the erector spinae and triceps compared to no assistive device condition. These results suggest that the air-assisted devices have potential as an effective intervention to considerably reduce physical risk factors associated with caregivers' musculoskeletal disorders in low back and upper extremities.