Making seating transfers easier

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Because arm strength can decrease with muscular dystrophy, I find a lot of the transfer tips I’ve gotten over the years to be useless. I cannot push down with my arms to boost my butt up at all, so I’m stuck “oompfhing” and sliding my way to wherever I want to transfer.

Often the difficulty with sliding from seat to seat is the friction caused between various fabrics. For example, it’s nearly impossible for me to wear corduroy pants and slide to the driver’s seat of my van because the seat fabric and the corduroy start an endless battle.

One solution to this problem is leather seats which is why I got a leather couch in my house instead of a fabric one. I can transfer and slide easily even with corduroy on. Alternately you can make use of a transfer board if necessary. However I find a transfer board only useful if I have to span a wide gap. It’s too cumbersome to use for any quick transfer.

My favorite solution, however, is to use a slippery piece of fabric as a temporary seat cover. (I recommend black because dirt doesn’t show!) I figured this out when I was having trouble getting in and out of my van while still walking. I could plop down just fine, but rotating my body to get comfortably positioned was a big pain in the butt. So I got a few yards of synthetic, running-pants type of fabric and laid it out on my driver’s seat. Sliding into a proper position became so much easier it was great. A benefit of using this sort of fabric is that you can also take it with you when you travel, or even fold it up and have it with you wherever you go. For example, if you go to someone’s house and they have a comfy looking recliner, you can just whip out your slippery fabric and slide onto the chair easily.

In a pinch I have also used plastic trash bags to provide a similar type of experience. Often though they’re not big enough to be completely effective and don’t survive too many transfers, but you can still make good use of them in a one-off situation.

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