Effectiveness of powered hospital bed movers for reducing physiological strain and back muscle activation

Battery powered bed movers are becoming increasingly common within the hospital setting. The use of powered bed movers is believed to result in reduced physical efforts required by health care workers, which may be associated with a decreased risk of occupation related injuries. However, little work has been conducted assessing how powered bed movers impact on levels of physiological strain and muscle activation for the user.  The muscular efforts associated with moving hospital beds using three different methods; powered Stamina Lift Bed Mover (PBM1), powered Gzunda Bed Mover (PBM2) and manual pushing were measured on six male subjects by the authors. Fourteen muscles were assessed moving a weighted hospital bed along a standardized route in an Australian hospital environment. Trunk inclination and upper spine acceleration were also quantified.  The authors concluded that powered bed movers exhibited significantly lower muscle activation levels than manual pushing for the majority of muscles.

When using the PBM1, users adopted a more upright posture which was maintained while performing different tasks (e.g. turning a corner, entering a lift), while trunk inclination varied considerably for manual pushing and the PBM2. The reduction in lower back muscular activation levels may result in lower incidence of lower back injury.