Paul Harrison Interview – Handling, Positioning and the design of Turning beds


The terms handling and positioning are widely used together. We focus a lot on the handling but there’s just as much in the actual positioning and one of the things with the equipment like beds and turning beds is it’s not just turning the patient for the nursing point of view. It’s the physiotherapists actually being able to position the patient for the prevention of things like contracture and the utilization of positioning in splints.

Joint mobility and limb positioning are just as important and many of the beds that are made are just looked at for lying in and being turned in and there may be a lot of nursing input but there is a big question about how a design of a bed actually facilitates therapists. Therapists have just as much interest in the design of equipment that is a standard piece of equipment like a bed, as nurses.

But because its seen as a ninety percent nursing thing you’d have to go round all the bed manufacturers and say how much does this bed emphasize the  benefits for the therapists? Therapists have a lot of good ideas which can be seen in the mechanical turning beds; parts of it facilitates therapy as well as turning.

Things like leg raisers, when they are working on lower limbs particularly paralyzed lower limbs, the bed will actually alleviate the lower limb to the height to which they can work to. We can get the normal positioning of the hands so we don’t lose joint positioning and joint protection.

If they want to put their arms out into cruciform, there’s a built in support into the bed rather than having to run around trying to find  things like fracture boards or put them on tables and intruding  into the existing bed space. Therefore, therapists are part of the design teams for beds if we are going to get the maximum use of the beds.