As a caregiver or a nurse, you need to learn how to use a gait belt properly for the mobility-challenged patient, and knowing this is basic. The gait belt is a belt with a non-slip metal buckle made from sturdy material, such as leather, nylon, and canvas. The belt can be 3.8-10 cm wide and 1367-152 cm long, which means it can fit almost everyone. Gait belt uses are –
- Helping someone move
- Helping a weak person with some mobility walk
- Provide support and prevent a fall
- Decrease the risk of obtaining a back injury while the weak patient moves or walk
- Transferring the patient from one place to another, such as from the bed to the wheelchair
The buckle of the belt has metal alligator teeth that keep the felt from loosening when in place. Some belts even have fabric handles to allow the caregiver to assist the patient quickly. One of the gait belt uses is providing a place to the nurse to help stabilize the patient in case they lose balance, thereby preventing a fall.
Tips on How to Use a Gait Belt Safely
- Not for carrying, lifting, or dragging
Physical therapists emphasis that such a belt is not for use in carrying or lifting the patient by the waist. It is not to be placed strapping the abdomen, breasts, or upper chest. The belt is meant to be fitted around the waist of the patient while they are moving or walking with caregiver assistance.
You should not put the belt over tubes, lines, stitches, or incisions and avoid using it on a pregnant woman in any case. With proper gait belt uses, the caregiver can prevent handling the patient by the underarm, wrist, or arm and injuring a weak person.
- Walking with the patient
If you are helping a seated person rise and walk, you should remind them to put their nose over their toes and then rise from their seat. Snug their belt if required. Ensure that it is neither too loose nor too tight. Avoid placing the belt around the patient’s upper chest, abdomen, and breasts.
The nurse should walk beside the person and place their hand flat on their back over the belt. One hand will help in monitoring movements. You may utilize an overhand or underhand hold with both hands or one hand on the belt. However, refrain from holding onto the skin or clothing of the patient.
You should also avoid placing your hand or fingers under the belt so that the belt does not tighten and feel uncomfortable to the patient. You must not swing or pull the patient with the belt. The gait belt is used by a person who relies on a walker or cane and may lose balance quickly.
- Fit it snugly
The belt easily fits around the natural waist of the patient snugly. While fastening the belt, make sure there is a gap that fits two fingers between the body and the belt, so the belt is not too tight for the patient if the gap is more than two fingers. Because the belt is long, it usually fits everyone.
It would help if you tucked the dangling end always or it may cause trouble to the patient. The belt fastens similar to a military belt. Also, always inform the person that you are going to use the belt and explain to them what you will be doing.
- Clear the surrounding
Before you put on the belt and make the person walk, clear everything in the room or area. There should be nothing lying on the floor or any sharp edges or objects in the path. The patient is already weak and may lose balance or may not be able to dodge the object in their way. As a result, they may obtain an unnecessary injury.
- Maintain a proper posture
While you are helping the person stand or transferring them from the bed to the chair, make sure your back is straight, and your knees are bent. As you will be rising the patient, your knees should rise, or your back may strain.
The tips mentioned above will help you in learning how to use a gait belt rightly and safely. The gait belt is an assistance device used to aid a weak patient in moving.