Transfer boards

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The transfer board is a simple device designed to assist a person in transferring with or without assistance to and from a wheelchair, bed, mobile shower commode or vehicle.

When using a transfer board, the person should not slide across it, rather they should do one or more lifts (with full clearance of their body off the board surface) across the board until in the final position.

People who carry out independent transfers should, where possible during the transfer:

  • complete level transfers
  • avoid positions of impingement (arm internally rotated, forward flexed and abducted)
  • avoid placing either hand on a flat surface when a hand grip (fingers draped over and grasping the edge of the transfer surface) or closed fist can be used
  • vary the technique used and the arm that leads.

Clinical rationale

A transfer board may be used:

  • when a person is unable to lift themselves in a single movement from one place to another
  • to protect skin integrity by avoiding contact with the wheel
  • to preserve shoulder function by reducing the amount of force required for lateral movement thereby lessening the chance of injury or exacerbation of pain
  • for transfers over longer distances, for example into a car.

Main types

Over-wheel transfer board

  • A perspex board with a cut-out that enables it to fit around the wheel of the wheelchair and a plastic cover that sits above the wheel.
  • Helps prevent the user from sitting directly on the wheel during a transfer.

Curved transfer board

  • A board that curves around the wheel that is an alternative design to the over-wheel slider.
  • Available in a variety of lengths and widths to suit a range of users.

Straight transfer board

  • A long wooden or perspex board.
  • Used for transfers on and off a commode, in and out of a car and, possibly, from a bed to/from a power wheelchair.
  • Note: Ensure that the person’s weight is compatible with the safe working limit of the transfer board.

Other options

Sheepskin sliding mat

  • Can be used to transfer a person in/out of a vehicle when they are physically unable to assist.
  • When using this equipment two assistants are required to ensure a safe transfer.

Satin or silk cover

  • Can be fitted to a straight transfer board to provide greater skin protection during commode transfers.

Folded slide sheet or a slide sheet tube

  • Can help facilitate transfers with a transfer board.


  • Can be used to reduce ‘sticking’ to a board when transferring from a wet commode.

Further information

Clinical guidelines and information

Clinical practice tool

Consumer resource

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