Transferring a Kayaker Using a Hoyer Patient Lift
One of the most formidable aspects of adaptive paddling, at least for people who use wheelchairs or need assistance getting in and out of the kayak, is executing a safe and secure transfer.
There are multiple ways to assist a paddler with an injury or disability into and out of a kayak, depending on the preferences and needs of the person. For paddlers with paralysis in their lower extremities but who have good upper body function, a transfer chair or bench may suffice.
For paddlers with quadriplegia who are comfortable with and confident in their paddling companions, a manual sling can be used. In this scenario, two or more individuals literally carry the paddler in the sling from one location and lower the person down into the cockpit.
For many adaptive kayak programs, however, a Hoyer lift is the preferred option. A Hoyer lift, more generically referred to as a patient lift, comes in many styles. There are electric- and battery-powered lifts, as well as hydraulic manual lifts which work by using a pump handle or crank to raise and lower the hoist mechanism. There are sit-to-stand lifts which are in a different category. Some lifts are suited for home use and others are more portable. Be sure that you're using the right kind of lift for the right environment and the individual's specific needs.
We’ll frequently refer to a Hoyer lift in this article because that’s the brand being used in the videos we recorded. There are many other brands of portable patient lifts (e.g., Invacare, ProHeal, Lumex,