Medicine:Gait belt

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A gait belt is a device put on a patient who has mobility issues, by a caregiver prior to that caregiver moving the patient. Patients may have problems with balance and a gait belt may be used to aid in the safe movement of a patient, from a standing position to a wheelchair, for example. The gait belt has been customarily made out of cotton webbing, with a durable metal buckle on one end. Cleanable vinyl gait belts were introduced in 2001 by Chapman Medical Products LLC, due to the tendency of webbing to harbor supergerms.

Purpose and use

Gait belts are worn around a patient's waist.[1] Their purpose is to put less strain on the lumbar spine of the patient as the caregiver(s) are transporting the patient. Gait belts are used in nursing homes, hospitals, or other similar facilities.


With the advent of supergerms, like MRSA,[2] and VRE,[3] trying to limit the ways germs are transmitted is a major concern for the healthcare industry. Identifying proper methods for cleaning webbed belts is an issue that most healthcare facilities are struggling with. Organizations like Joint Commissions,[4] OSHA and the CDC[5] are constantly updating their recommendations for cleaning inanimate objects like the gait belt. Barry Chapman, a registered nurse, noticed that the webbed gait belts rarely if ever were cleaned. He also saw how hard they were to clean and keep clean. He patented his own version.[6] Cleanable vinyl gait belts were introduced in 2001 by Chapman Medical Products LLC. The vinyl gait belt has had mixed reviews mainly because the main users like CNA's, PT's, PTA's, OT's and nurses have to purchase their own. Healthcare companies that purchase them for staff have limited funds. The medical product industry sees the value in the cleanable gait belt and many other gait belt manufacturers have produced their own versions of the cleanable vinyl gait belt.

When required by law

When required by law, nursing homes may be fined if a patient is hurt during transport and subsequent investigations show the patient was not wearing a gait belt. In September 13, 2017 Douglas Manor nursing home in Windham was fined $1,530 after a patient suffered several injuries when staff failed to use the gait belt when assisting with transfer.[7]

OSHA guidelines

The OSHA website offers current practice guidelines for the use of gait belts. The guidelines point out that more than one caregiver may be needed, and that belts with padded handles are easier to grip. It further states that gait belts are never to be used as restraints or on patients with G-tubes, and are avoided with patients who have catheters.[8]


  1. Lindh, Wilburta Q.; Pooler, Marilyn; Tamparo, Carol D.; Dahl, Barbara M.; Morris, Julie (15 April 2013) (in en). Delmar's Comprehensive Medical Assisting: Administrative and Clinical Competencies. Cengage Learning. p. 977. ISBN 9781285712642. 
  2. "Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus1 - 7835 - Emerging Infectious Diseases - CDC Public Access". 
  3. Leavis, Helen L.; Willems, Rob J.L.; Top, Janetta; Spalburg, Emile; Mascini, Ellen M.; Fluit, Ad C.; Hoepelman, Andy; de Neeling, Albert J. et al. (1 September 2003). "Epidemic and Nonepidemic Multidrug-ResistantEnterococcus faecium". Emerging Infectious Diseases 9 (9): 1108–1115. doi:10.3201/eid0909.020383. PMC 3016763. 
  4. "Joint Commission Clarifies IC Requirements Related to Medical Equipment, Devices and Supplies". 2009-10-14. 
  5. "Guideline for infection control in health care personnel, 1998 - 11563 - CDC Public Access - Guidelines and Recommendations". 
  6. "Espacenet - Bibliographic data". 
  7. Writer, Cara Rosner Conn. Health I-Team. "Eight Connecticut nursing homes fined following lapses in care" (in en). West Hartford News. 
  8. "Guidelines for Nursing Homes: Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders".