Fear of falling on the floor and being unable to get up without the help of the fire department (or heavy lifting from caregivers and friends) may be a thing of the past for MSers. After months of testing, ActiveMSers reviews the innovative IndeeLift—a patient lift and versatile portable people picker upper.
As I was flying through the air in seemingly slow motion, I had time to ponder. Ponder why I recklessly decided to fly down my van’s wheelchair ramp without waiting for Laura’s assistance. Ponder the wisdom of speeding off said ramp into a deep gravel driveway. And ponder just how effective gravel-filled runaway truck ramps can be if the runaway vehicle in question was a wheelchair operated by an impatient, overconfident dude. (Spoiler alert, pretty darn effective!) But then I realized there was a silver lining as I dramatically augured off my wheelchair to faceplant in my driveway: I could finally test the revolutionary IndeeLift—“the people picker upper”—in a real-world situation.
Falls are a fact of life. But getting up from falls can be a challenge for the elderly or for those with disabilities that affect balance, walking, and standing. In the past, there were limited solutions. Struggle mightily to right yourself with the help of a caregiver (or two) and hope they don’t wrench out a back. Dial your local fire department and wait for rescue—if you can reach the phone and manage to unlock your front door. Or push that little button you have hanging around your neck for that dramatic “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” reenactment. Pretty grim options.
Enter the IndeeLift, a human floor lift developed by Steve Powell. After his parents had suffered countless falls—so many that the local fire department practically became family—he resolved to come up with a more practical solution. After years of development and testing, the IndeeLift was introduced, much to the relief of caregivers, EMS crews, and, uh, Laura, my wife. Thank goodness Steve sent ActiveMSers a test unit, as my recent falls had Laura threatening to use my gait belt in areas not around my waist. Gulp.
The Person/Patient Lifter
The IndeeLift really is in a class of its own, and not just because it looks like the result after an odd-couple romantic relationship between a miniature dolly and a small forklift. (I mean, sure, they like the same music, types of movies, and spicy food, but what about all the other compatibility issues?) Most other patient lifts are pretty much sling-operated, unwieldy, and static—perfect for a hospital. A home? Not so much. That’s what makes the IndeeLift so appealing. It’s the ideal combo. Portable. Small. And able to be operated solo. Oh, and it does the job it’s built to do: to lift a person off the floor safely.
Most falls, 80 percent, don’t cause injury. But for people with a disability or the elderly, the mere act of getting up from a fall can be a serious issue. Case in point: years ago, my grandfather fell in the kitchen. My grandmother, while trying to help him up, also fell. After struggling for more than an hour to get up without success, they curled up together and went to sleep so they could try again in the morning when they were fresh. If only they had IndeeLift’s Human Floor Lift (HFL).
The HFL, running $2,195– $2,545, lifts individuals off the floor to chair height and comes in two flavors: the HFL-300 (lifting up to 300 lbs) and the HFL-400 (able to lift up to 400 lbs). The “D” option includes safety harnesses and belts for those with greater mobility/stabilization issues. Placed in a central area of the home (or in a high-risk “fall” zone, for me the bathroom), the HFL can be operated solo, ideal for those living alone.
How does it work? After a fall, the user crawls or scootches over to the HFL (or a caregiver wheels it over), slides his or her rear end onto the lift, grabs the side bars for support, and then pushes the “up” arrow on the wired remote controller. In just over a minute, the battery-powered IndeeLift raises the individual to chair height (21”) for easier standing or transfer to a wheelchair. No EMTs. No calling friends. No cavalry breaking down doors to discover you on the ground, partially dressed, with mussed hair, an open can of craft IPA (mostly finished), orange-tinted fingers, and an empty Cheetos bag. Thank God.
Real World Testing
As I was splayed out on my driveway, healthy except for a bruised ego, I could feel Laura’s eyeroll penetrating my soul. “But this is a GOOD thing,” I said unconvincingly, trying to convince her of my good/bad fortune. She wheeled the fully charged IndeeLift from its safe perch—it weighs a stout 63 lbs, a necessity for stability (a full charge will last at least a half dozen lifts). She set it behind me, I scooted my butt onto the platform, and up I went. Laura righted my fallen wheelchair, and once I was fully raised, I transferred onto my wheelchair that she positioned for me.
In my MS world, there is life before the IndeeLift and life after the IndeeLift.
Then, to make certain we had this down, over the next couple weeks, I fell two more times to test the IndeeLift… and to test Laura’s patience. And I made one of those tests a solo endeavor on my bathroom tile floor. We set the HFL just outside the door to the toilet, where it would be if I were on my own. I proceeded to scootch over (with my undies half on, hey this is real world stuff), and managed to get onto the lift after some leg wrangling and wheelchair tugging. Before doing anything, I caught my breath. Midway up, I had to pause and position my legs better (they don’t move well on their own). Once the lift was up, I carefully positioned my wheelchair, moved my legs again, and just chilled for a minute to let the stress level lower. Then I carefully transferred onto my wheelchair completing the solo maneuver.
There was only one hiccup. Getting onto the IndeeLift from the floor meant butt scooching, and the stability arms were just a tad short to grab and efficiently scooch so my rear could be firmly planted all the way back on the lift. There just wasn’t the leverage. After batting around ideas with the developer, a brilliant solution emerged: longer stability arms on all models (the longer arms originally were only trialed on a version for those with inclusion body myositis—read an IBMers’ review here—which has different lift requirements). That made a huge difference not only for getting on the lift, but more importantly in stability and confidence. Transfers became vastly easier, as I could confidently lean forward while bracing the extended stability arms.
Human Floor Lift FAQ
Are the stability arms adjustable? They do swing away conveniently for transfers. For total access and full side transfers (to say a wheelchair), arms can easily be removed.
Is the HFL hard to move? Not for someone who is able bodied, although it is heavy due to the steel plate under the lift, which provides stability. Carrying the lift up or down stairs would require two people or one very strong individual, the kind you have open stubborn jars or help you move furniture.
What if the battery dies? Plug it in. The HFL should last 8 lifts or more. But if you forgot to charge it, the power cord is decently long, and an extension cord should reach all the way to your driveway if you clunk there.
Does it have other uses? Absolutely. While the IndeeLift cannot be moved with a person on it, if you need to move your rear from Point A to Point B, the HFL is at the ready. It can transport you to the floor (on purpose!) so you can exercise or play with your grandkids. I also regularly use it to help me get off my handcycle. Laura positions it next to the seat on the trike, I scoot over, and then use the lift. To transfer to my wheelchair, I slide off one side or she moves my trike to make room for my rolling chariot.
Notes of Caution
First, before lifting anyone, make sure there is not a serious injury from the fall itself. If so, call 911 or your local emergency number. Second, the lift seat is rather shallow, a design necessity. Use the extended stability bars to snuggly set yourself on the seat before lifting, and readjust during the lifting process as necessary. Third, while the HFL feels rock stable, backing it up to a wall for solo lifts is recommended. Speaking of solo lifts, there are a few caveats. Practicing with a caregiver is smart before going it alone. If your legs are uncooperative, positioning them properly is essential for stability (MS spasticity adds a complicating wrinkle). Also, if you are transferring to a wheelchair, scooter, or walker, you’ll need to tug and position your device near the lift. Lastly, the belts for safety, which I never felt I needed after I got the revised stability arms, might be challenging to secure if you are by your lonesome.
In my MS world, there is life before the IndeeLift and life after the IndeeLift. Before, a fall would necessitate all hands on deck and a monumental struggle. Laura would have to bring in a low chair that she would furiously try to wrangle me on to. Then we’d struggle to get me from that onto my wheelchair. And then finally we’d collapse from exhaustion and swear after the next fall we were calling the fire department. After IndeeLift? We shrug our shoulders, exclaim “life happens,” and in under five minutes I am back to wheeling around complaining about my lack of beer and crunchy cheese snacks. Seriously. No one wants to fall. But if you do, there is no better security blanket than the IndeeLift. ActiveMSers has arranged a $250 discount for all members. Click this link to automatically receive those savings on your IndeeLift.
While an IndeeLift unit was provided for testing purposes, all findings and recommendations are independent and ActiveMSers receives no additional compensation from sales.