Slide Board Transfer Tips & Tricks

Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash

The slide board can be a very useful device for a wide range of patient populations. While typically used for paraplegia or wheelchair dependent patients, I have seen them used for orthopedics with non-weightbearing precautions, generalized weakness, encephalopathy, and more.


  • Sliding uses a shearing force, take caution in patients with pressure sores; consider using a beasy board
  • Length of slide board: longer boards are generally more useful for car transfers
  • Material of board: for infection control (plastic is better than wood, the small pores in foam increases infection risk)
  • Hole cut out increases risk for finger crush injuries
  • Integrity of board (old, warped, or splinters)
  • Friction between board and surface it is resting on
  • Getting to destination surface AND BACK: plan ahead, the patient will likely have to transfer back from destination surface back to origin at a later point
  • Levelness of board: sliding up hill can be very challenging and may pose a fall risk either falling downhill or overcompensating and falling uphill; position board as “flat” as possible
  • Have an extra hand for assistance if patient has poor sitting balance
  • Patient will need to be able to laterally weight shift to place the board under one of their buttocks.
  • Ensure transfer origin and destination devices are locked and do not move during transfer
  • If transferring to a commode, use a drop-arm commode
  • Block patient from sliding or falling forward during the transfer
  • Ensure the slideboard does not move during the transfer, assist in stabilizing the slideboard if necessary
  • Check the weight capacity of board, especially if using a longer board


  • Use Dycem under the slide board to increase friction, e.g. transferring onto a plastic commode.
  • Wrap a chux pad around the slide board to prevent skin from sticking to the slide board.
  • Patient does not need to perform large scoots, small “mini” scoots are fine — assist in each scoot as needed.
  • If transferring from a bed, elevate the bed slightly to a downhill slope on the slideboard, but ensure the bed can go low enough to match the height from the other surface when transferring back.
  • Clean and wipe down any surfaces that were used.
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.