Paraplegic Floor Transfer Techniques

This article contains a video
Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Jesi Stracham
Jesi Stracham
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

Jesi Stracham, a T4 paraplegic, is the founder of the Wheel With Me Foundation. Jesi’s mission with the Wheel With Me Foundation is to “integrate new spinal cord injury (SCI) patients back into the world by giving them the skills to function and live independently.” One way Jesi strives to accomplish this mission is to share videos on how she does certain tasks independently.

In the video above, Jesi demonstrates different ways floor transfers can be done independently. 

Making Floor Transfers Easier 

Jesi begins her video by giving a few tips on how to make floor transfers easier. Jesi’s first tip is to gain strength by exercising. She gives a few ideas on different exercises - like laying on the floor and lifting your wheelchair over your head (if you’re able) to work on triceps. She states to always have someone there with you when doing this exercise.

Chair push-ups are the next exercise Jesi demonstrates where she holds on to her tires and pushes down with her arms. She is then able to lift her body out of her wheelchair.

“The floor transfer is key to learning because it helps you remove that fear of falling.”

Jesi advises learning how to transfer from the floor independently because it helps you remove the fear of falling. “So now if you fall and you’re alone, you will be able to get yourself back up,” she says. 

Floor Transfers 

Jesi recommends putting on shoes before doing a floor transfer to give yourself more stability. The first transfer technique Jesi demonstrates is transferring to a couch and then transferring to your wheelchair. (Jump to 2:50 in video)

“First thing’s first, gain your composure (after falling). It’s so important that we stay calm in this situation. don’t freak out you’re on the floor, it’s okay.”

Jesi begins the transfer on to the couch by pulling the couch cushion off and sitting it on the floor. She then scoots her body in between her wheelchair and cushion with her back facing the cushion. Jesi keeps her knees bent as this position makes the transfer easier for her. With her wheelchair in front of her, Jesi puts one hand behind her on the couch cushion with the other on her chair. She then pushes through her arms while leaning away from her bottom, allowing her to move her body on to the cushion. 

Jesi is now sitting on the cushion (after positioning her body) next to the couch. “I personally get more leverage when I am pushing on something lower than me and something higher,” says Jesi as she prepares to transfer onto the couch. With her knees bent to her chest, Jesi puts one hand on the cushion and one hand on the couch and pushes through her arms lifting her body onto the couch. She then moves the cushion on the floor out of the way and pulls her wheelchair closer to the couch and transfers into her wheelchair. 

Starting at 6:25 in the video, Jesi demonstrates a different transfer technique using the couch. She positions herself between her wheelchair and the couch. Keeping her knees to her chest she is able to push off her wheelchair and the couch with her arms and transfers back safely in her wheelchair.

The last transfer Jesi demonstrates in her video (7:25) is transferring directly from the floor into her wheelchair. Jesi positions her wheelchair so she is sitting sideways on the floor with her body kind of leaning against her chair. Her knees are bent to her chest. Jesi then pushes off the ground with one hand while pushing off her wheelchair with her other hand. In one swift motion, Jesi is back in her chair. 

"That’s the beautiful thing about this injury is every single one is like a fingerprint. So, just because my way may not fully work for you, you can adapt it and make it work for you.”

Jesi concludes, “So, there’s tons of ways that we can do the floor transfer, it’s just a matter of practicing and finding what way works for you because what works for me may not work for you because our injuries are so different. That’s the beautiful thing about this injury is every single one is like a fingerprint. So, just because my way may not fully work for you, you can adapt it and make it work for you.”

How do you do a floor to chair transfer? Share your story with us at!

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