Airplane Transfer (Depression Scoot)

Sometimes, a slide board transfer may not be the safest option between surfaces. A patient may poor awareness of the board, have low confidence in their abilities, or a slide board may simply not be available.

Another transfer you can teach your patients is the “airplane” transfer or forward/backward depression scoot between surfaces.




  • Weight-bearing status of upper extremities
  • Risk of or existing pressure sores at risk for shearing
  • Distance (gap) between transfer surfaces
  • Origin and destination surfaces are locked and secure
  • Use a slide sheet or chux pad, and/or gait belt under the patient to asssit with the transfer

Bed to wheelchair or commode

Transferring from bed to another surface

  1. Position the device in the middle of the bed, facing the side of the bed, either on the left or right side of the bed (“Facing”, as opposed to perpendicular, e.g. in squat pivot transfers).
    • Ensure the gap between the bed and wheelchair or commode is as small as possible, if gap is a risk for falls, STOP. Consider another transfer.
  2. Have the patient come into fowler’s and long sit or tailor sit.
  3. Assist the patient in turning and simultaneously scooting either left or right so that they begin to align with the wheelchair or commode (as if sitting in it).
    • Eventually, the patient will be perpendicular to the bed, but aligned with the destination device.
  4. Assist the patient in depression scooting posteriorly towards the device.
    • Provide sitting balance assistance if necessary.
    • Stabilize the destination device from moving backwards and away from the bed.
  5. If destination is wheelchair, patient can now move backwards away from the bed and mobilize to another destination. If destination is commode (which is stationary), assist in moving the bed away so the patient’s legs can dangle and not be rested on the bed.

Wheelchair or commode to bed

  1. Steps are reversed and patient moves anteriorly/forward towards the bed until off the origin surface.
  2. Assist the patient in turning and simultaneously depression scooting towards the pillow while maintaining seated position (as if using a slide board).
  3. Patient may transition from fowler’s into semi-fowler’s or supine position once in position at head of bed.
  4. Wheelchair or commode may be left in place or removed based on need.
Jeff is a licensed occupational therapist and lead content creator for OT Dude. He covers all things occupational therapy as well as other topics including healthcare, wellness, mental health, technology, science, sociology, and philosophy. Buy me a Coffee on Venmo.