Topic Overview

After your
spinal cord injury (SCI), you may need a wheelchair.
Moving from your wheelchair to other locations is known as a transfer. If you
have enough upper body strength, you may be able to do this yourself.

Your injury and strength will determine what type of transfer you do.
But there are general things that are important to know when

  • Make sure there is as little distance as possible
    between the transfer surfaces. If the distance is too great, use a transfer
    board. A transfer board can bridge the gap between the two transfer surfaces,
    making it easier.
  • Try to make the two transfer surfaces as close in
    height as possible.
  • Make sure the transfer surfaces are stable.
    Lock your wheelchair. And be sure that the other surface won’t
  • Be aware of objects your skin can scrape against during the
    transfer. This scraping can cause
    pressure injuries.
  • If you have a
    catheter, be aware of objects that it can catch
  • If possible, remove objects that may interfere with your
    transfer. This could include arm or leg rests.
  • If you will be
    walking on a floor, be sure you have no-skid shoes and there are no throw rugs
    or other objects in the way.
  • If you worry about being able to
    transfer yourself, ask for help. Explain to the person helping you exactly what
    you need him or her to do.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Greenwald, MD – Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017