A transfer board is an assistive device which is designed to help people move from wheelchairs to beds, cars, toilets, stair lifts, and other locations. Transfer boards can also be used for patients with limited mobility, even if those patients are not in wheelchairs. Many nursing supply stores and stores which cater to wheelchair users carry transfer boards, with a range of options available to meet various needs.
Several characteristics define a transfer board, and distinguish it from the transfer boards used by emergency medical services. A transfer board is small enough to fit on the seat of a wheelchair or balance on the rim of a toilet, and the design is flat, sturdy, and stable, to support the patient as the patient is lifted between locations. Many transfer boards are designed allow patients to slide along the board, increasing personal mobility by allowing patients to set up their own transfer boards and move themselves.
The transfer boards used by emergency medical services are more properly known as backboards or long spine boards. These boards are somewhat larger than a human body, and they are designed to totally immobilize patients with suspected spinal injuries. Patients are strapped to the backboard on site and kept on the backboard as they are transported. Backboards are usually x-ray transparent so that patients can be immobilized during x-ray to check for spinal injuries before the backboard is removed.
There are several different transfer board designs available. The most basic transfer boards are simply rigid wooden, plastic, or metal boards, which may or may not have handles. Some are shaped to make them more comfortable to use. Other transfer boards have a flexible component, so that the transfer board can be turned into a lifting chair to move a patient. Some transfer boards are designed for very specific purposes; for example, transfer boards can have an end which conforms to a toilet seat, allowing someone to slide onto the toilet with the use of the transfer board, use the toilet, and then slide back onto a wheelchair.
Transfer boards are great tools for caregivers, because they allow for patient transfers with a minimal stress on the back and legs, since the caregiver is not actively lifting the patient. Using a transfer board can also be safer than physically carrying a patient, because the patient's weight is supported and stabilized by the board, reducing the risk of slips and falls. Transfer boards also allow caregivers to handle especially large patients, or patients with extremely reduced mobility.