Gait belts are assistive devices that are used to help frail seniors or those with limited mobility maintain stability while walking or transferring from – for example – a wheelchair to the toilet or from the bed to a wheelchair.
When used correctly, a gait belt lessens the chance of the senior falling and injuring themselves.
Additionally, these belts are designed to help aid caregivers in lifting and guiding the elder, while reducing strain and injury to their own body.
There are two types of gait belts – one with a buckle fastener and one that features a quick release fastener.
When I was working as an Occupational Therapist (OT), I really liked this type of safety belt.
It was my top pick because this particular type of belt is wide enough that if the user were to stumble or fall, the grasp and pull on the belt would not dig into their skin and harm them.
*NOTE: Keep in mind that seniors using a gait belt should still have some mobility and just need some extra support. Gait belts should not be used to move an otherwise immobile person.
Always be cautious of using a gait belt on a senior who has a condition affecting their lower back or abdominal region, or when they are recovering from a surgery in these areas.
In addition, use caution if the person has a catheter in place, or a feeding tube, or has any device that is being used around their abdomen.
To Use A Gait Belt:
- Fasten it around the person’s waist
- Be sure it is snug, with only enough room for you to slide your fingers under it
- Hold the person by the gait belt at their waist (not by their shoulders or arms)
- Guide them using your leg muscles or your arms. Don’t use your back muscles or you may injure yourself.