Portable AirLift takes the muscle out of single-worker health care
Nursing can be a physically taxing job – particularly when it comes to patient transfers – and it's over-represented in workplace injury statistics. With the nursing workforce getting older, and more and more in-home care being done by just one worker, this super-portable, inflatable patient transfer device could help save a lot of backs and knees.
One of Australia's National Winners in this year's James Dyson design awards, the Airlift is, at the heart of it, an inflatable bag with a detachable pump. Shaped more or less like a lilo or stretcher, it's designed to be tucked under a patient while they're lying down, then inflated to assist with three key patient movements.
Tuck it flat under the body, and the Airlift acts much like the Hovermatt, blowing up to create a firm, low-friction platform with strong handles all around the sides. This greatly reduces the effort it takes to slide a body around on a bed. Fold it in half top to bottom, and you can tuck it under the upper body, and gradually inflate it to sit the patient up without any physical effort at all. Fold it in half side to side, and you can tuck it under one side of the patient, then gradually inflate it to turn them over, again with barely any physical effort.
The system is designed for use by a single carer, and thus, unlike the Hovermatt, it's extremely portable. The Airlift weighs very little, and folds down to backpackable size. And rather than requiring a large compressor to be wheeled around, this time the pump's little bigger than a pint mug, and equipped with a small remote control, so you're not stuck on the wrong side of it working the buttons as your patient flops off the bed. And because this can be messy work, and nurses often deal with multiple patients, the inflatable bladder sits inside a removable, washable cover.
At this stage, it's just a design concept, although the team has prototyped the pump and remote control, and tested the solution to some degree using an inflatable lounge. The Airlift team was named one of the Australian National Winners of the James Dyson Awards, and has entered the device in other contests, hoping to raise the funds for a full prototype, testing and a push toward commercialization.
We suspect patient transfers won't be quite as simple as they look in the project video below – indeed, ten points to anyone that manages to grab a patient's toes and push them a foot up the bed, as shown at 1:13. Still, with in-home care on the rise, it's easy to see a device like this being super handy, delivering a comfortable experience to patients while helping prevent some injuries to health care workers, and being small and light enough to actually get carried around.
Source: James Dyson Awards