Patient Lifting Devices: Lift Slings

The bulk of research done for patient lifting equipment is often spent on the lift system itself. It's often overlooked that an almost equally vital piece of the full picture is, the Hoyer lift sling. I assure you, the amount of time you look into the lift itself should also be spent on just the type of slings that are needed. You can’t use an automobile without tires right? And you wouldn’t use the same type of tire for all different driving applications correct? Same goes for patient lift slings. The sling determines what the lift will actually be helping you accomplish. In your assessment of the patient’s needs or the care setting of the unit of your particular care setting, you should have addressed what particular transfers need to be accomplished as well as the typical mobility levels of the patients/residents. By giving some serious thought to these occurrences, we can begin to figure out which kind of lift slings will be most appropriate for you, your staff, or your loved one. Let’s take a look from a broad perspective at the different styles of slings there are, as well as other factors to consider.

Repositioning Slings These slings visually often resemble a flat sheet with straps on the side. These slings are often called “Repositioning Sheets, Repo Sheets” among other names.

The main variant in these are usually sizing and material.

The primary uses for these slings in terms of mobility tasks are, but not exclusive too: Lateral to Lateral Transfers (e.x. stretcher to bed), boosting in bed, turning a patient.

Seated Slings These slings visually have a support for the lower back at minimum as well as an extension of material for the legs that are often crossed and thus create an opening where the patient’s buttocks is. These slings offer support for those in a seated position. Other names for these types of slings are “High Back slings, universal slings, and wheelchair slings”.

The main variant in these are usually how high up the material goes on the patient’s back (e.x. High Back for added neck support, low back if patient has full mobility in upper part of body) as well as Amputee Slings that accommodate for various leg placements.

The primary uses for these slings in terms of mobility tasks are, but not exclusive too: Seated to seated transfers (e.x. Wheelchair to chair, Wheelchair to bed with upright back, Chair to commode)

Toileting Sling, Showering Sling– Toileting Slings as well as shower slings visually often resemble, and are grouped in with Seated Slings.

The main difference in most cases is the material of which it’s made with, as well as the size of the opening where the patient’s buttocks is. The material can be identified as a more breathable fabric than a Seated Sling counterpart as to allow for moisture to be able to pass through it.

The primary uses for these slings in terms of mobility tasks are, but not exclusive too: Seated to Seated transfers (e.x. Wheelchair to shower chair, chair to commode, and chair to toilet)

Walking SlingThese slings visually resemble what you may imagine somebody parachuting would have on. There is usually a wraparound strap for the lower back as well as leg straps for support. These slings are usually referred too as "Gait Slings, ambulating slings, walking slings", among other names.

The main variant in these types of slings is just how much support is given to the back and the legs.

The primary uses for these slings in terms of mobility tasks are, but not exclusive too: Ambulating, Physical Therapy (e.x. walking exercises), Standing and Walking Assist.

Turning Sling These slings visually often resemble a large bow-tie of sorts, or even just a large triangle. Another name for this type of sling is a “Turner sling”.

The primary use for this type of sling in terms of mobility tasks are, but not limited to: Turning the patient in bed (not just turning but also allowing for access to the skin when turned)

Limb or Leg SlingThese slings visually resemble a narrow rectangle with straps on the ends. Aside from "limb sling" and "leg slings" they can also be called "multi-purpose slings".

The primary uses for these slings in terms of mobility tasks are, but not exclusive too: Lifting different areas of the leg as well as other parts of the body.

Standing SlingThese slings visually can resemble a limb sling. They are used in conjunction with a “Sit to Stand Lift” and not so much with a ceiling lift or mobile floor lift. They are also often referred to as “hip support slings, sit to stand sling, stand assist sling”. The primary function of these slings is to provide support to the patient’s back and hips while the Sit to Stand Device is helping them from the sitting position onto standing.

Other Factors to Consider when choosing a Patient Lift Sling

Once you have narrowed down what care tasks will be performed and thus the appropriate sling style for those tasks, the next most important factor will be the sizing of the sling. Most companies who provide these slings have measurements for their sizing and those should absolutely be reviewed before purchasing. The wrong sling size can lead to a number of different problems when using the lift so in order to avoid any mishaps it is key to know the sling being used will fit the patient accordingly. What does your patient population look like? After considering style and size these following factors should also be looked into when deciding what type of patient lift sling should be purchased – material, warranty, safe working load, disposable vs reusable, laundering instructions (if reusable), connection style (loop or clip style), safe working load (if for bariatric use), instructional guides.

If you’d like more information to help you feel prepared in purchasing this type of equipment, contact one of our specialists by e-mailing ( us or by giving us a call at (617) 895 7966 to discuss a personalized plan for your patient lift equipment needs.

To read more about specific types of Safe Patient Handling equipment, check out our "Patient Lifting Devices for Home Use" blog posts

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