Research

Summary of results from clinical trials of the U-Stand frame

Research objectives
The Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) conducted a study in hospital wards and in an aged care facility to qualitatively assess the usefulness of the U-Stand frame for assisting in sit-to-stand transfers from a bed. The research objectives were to determine:

  • types of users who may benefit from the frame;
  • whether users felt safer and more independent using the frame than with other sit-to-stand transfer methods;
  • whether fewer staff members were required for sit-to-stand transfers;
  • design improvements;
  • participants’ impressions of the device.

Questionnaire on current methods of performing sit-to-stand transfers

A questionnaire on current sit-to-stand transfer methods was undertaken by aged-care workers and hospital physiotherapists. The majority of respondents perform sit-to-stand transfers individually or with another healthcare worker assisting, and when they were asked to describe a method they frequently use for transfers, the main methods described involved manual handling.

Respondents presented safety concerns with using current assistive devices for sit-to-stand transfers. These focused on shoulder injuries that can be caused by stand lifters pulling under the arms, unsuitable sizes of equipment for clients, poor condition of personal aids, flat batteries, and device designs encouraging poor standing techniques. Respondents also considered assistive devices to be time-consuming to set up as well as being bulky to store and transport, and requiring ample space to set up in.

All respondents stated that they believed a frame that acts like an armchair on the bed, with arm rests to push up from, would be useful to assist a person’s transition to standing with less assistance.

U-Stand frame trial
Aged care workers and hospital physiotherapists participated in a trial with the U-Stand frame. The aged-care workers claimed the U-Stand frame was easy to use and felt that it was an improvement on other sit-to-stand transfer methods. The hospital physiotherapists believed the U-Stand frame was less useful in a hospital setting than in aged-care for a variety of reasons, including that it was difficult to put in place around intubated patients, and that it required staff to carry an extra piece of equipment around the wards. Many of the physiotherapists said that they preferred a hands-on approach to transferring a patient but that they felt that the frame might be useful for nursing staff in hospitals, who perform more frequent transfers and whose main focus is on getting the patient out of bed rather than working on independent mobility.

Success stories
In aged-care particularly, healthcare workers were impressed with the difference the U-Stand frame made. Aged-care residents who required full assistance using a stand up lifter prior to the trial were able to stand independently using the U-Stand frame, and a resident who had a very weak arm had no difficulty using the frame using only the strong arm.

Conclusion
The initial reaction of hospital and aged care staff to the idea of the U-Stand frame was that they considered it an excellent and necessary product and they were interested in trying it out. It was well accepted in an aged-care setting, and hospital physiotherapists, while acknowledging that it did not necessarily suit their rehabilitation objectives, suggested that the device had potential to greatly reduce the manual handling load on nursing staff in a hospital setting. The main design change recommended by participants was to reduce the weight. This feedback was taken into consideration, and the current frame remains suitably strong but is much lighter.