This lesson covers the guidelines that should be followed when implementing body mechanics. Learn how the guidelines should be followed and why they are important for the safety of yourself and your patients.

Body Mechanics

Julie is starting her career as a nurse. On her first day, she receives a briefing of the patients she’ll be in charge of that day. Several patients are immobile or have limited mobility. Julie immediately realizes that she is going to need to use her knowledge of body mechanics to prevent injury to herself and the patients. Body mechanics are the movements of bones and skeletal muscles to change position and posture.

In nursing school, Julie learned that body mechanics include moving, positioning, and ambulation of patients. Ambulation is the moving of patients from place to place. Body mechanics are used when making beds, lifting patients, assisting a patient in walking, and carrying out other procedures like transporting medical supplies and equipment.

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Julie is very aware of how important body mechanics are to the patients since they are not able to move themselves around as needed. She also knows that body mechanics are important for her as well. Practicing good body mechanics can protect her own body from possible injury.

In this lesson, we’ll explore body mechanics guidelines that nurses like Julie should follow when handling patients.

Body Mechanics Guidelines

The first guideline is to determine how much help a patient needs when moving. Some patients are able to bear some of their own weight, while others cannot. Some patients only require assistance when moving in bed.

For patients that are completely immobile, it may be necessary for Julie to request assistance from other nurses or use patient handling devices, such as a hydraulic lift, sling, or other patient lifting equipment. This may be especially true for heavy patients.

Another guideline that Julie needs to follow is to put the patients at a comfortable height when working with them. For most people, this usually means having the patient at waist-level. This helps to eliminate the back strain from bending over to help a patient that is in the bed.

The next guideline is closely related to the last one. Avoid leaning and stretching when you are working with patients. Julie can meet this guideline by keeping the patients as close to her body as possible when moving them. This guideline is helpful when you are working with patients in the bed or chair as well as when you are moving them from one place to another.

The next guideline is to get into a proper stance before you start to move or turn patients. Julie needs to make sure her feet are about shoulder width apart with one foot a little in front of the other. This gives a wider base for her to work with and distributes weight more evenly on her body. The patients should also be positioned in a manner that distributes their weight evenly as well.

It is also important to keep your lower back in a neutral position. This means that your lower back should not twist or bend when working with patients. Following this guideline will prevent most back muscle strains and injuries. Keep in mind that movement of your body should take place in the legs and hips only. Your back should stay pretty well aligned as you work.

It is extremely important to follow the guideline of using the large muscles in your legs for lifting and moving patients. This will help Julie to not use her back muscles, which can cause a back strain as well. Bending the knees when lifting and closely adhering to all of the previous guidelines will force Julie to use her legs to lift.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review. In this lesson, you learned that body mechanics are the movements of bones and skeletal muscles to change position and posture. Body mechanics involves moving, positioning, and ambulation of patients.

The guidelines for implementing body mechanics are as follows:

  • Determine how much help a patient needs when moving and use assistance or devices when necessary.
  • Put the patient at a comfortable height when working with them
  • Avoid leaning and stretching when you are working with patients
  • Get into a proper stance before you start to move or turn patients
  • Keep your lower back in a neutral position. Do not twist or bend your back
  • Use the large muscles in your legs for lifting and moving patients

These guidelines should be followed every time you work with patients to prevent back strains and other injuries to yourself and the patients.