OBJECTIVE. To determine how safe-patient-handling (SPH) equipment is used in rehabilitation and how it affects therapists, patients, and therapy practice.

METHOD. We used a qualitative, instrumental case study design. Thirty-five occupational and physical therapist practitioners from three facilities participated in the study.

RESULTS. Therapists reported a broad range of applications for equipment (e.g., functional mobility and neuromusculoskeletal function). They reported that SPH equipment increased treatment options for therapists and increased participation options for patients, although equipment limitations exist. Three themes emerged from the analysis: choice, potential, and safety.

CONCLUSION. SPH equipment has therapeutic applications in rehabilitation, especially for medically complex or bariatric patients. Therapists in this study engaged in a highly individualized, complex process of decision making when selecting and using SPH devices in rehabilitation. More research to refine and test therapeutic uses is necessary.

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