While studying physical therapy, the founders of Universal Vests learned to use a gait belt to lift and transfer patients just like every other aspiring PT student. After working in the field for a few years, they grew frustrated with the one-method-fits-all approach and began brainstorming other options. Wheel:Life writer Betsy Bailey spoke with one of the founders of Universal Vests at Abilities Expo New York Metro and got the full story on how the idea came about along with a demonstration of the newly launched product.
The majority of all caregivers and physical therapists are using a gait belt. However, for patients who have severe balance issues, need transfer and lift support, or are wheelchair users, the gait belt doesn’t give them full support, especially if the therapist or caregiver is small or not very strong. The gait belt tends to rub and slide and requires a caregiver to continually adjust it. This almost always causes significant discomfort to the patient.
Once, I had a young patient with cerebral palsy, and I wanted to get him into the pool. So, I put a gait belt on him, but it kept slipping, and I wasn’t able to hold him very well. I got really frustrated. That evening, I went to Home Depot, bought a construction vest, and had my mom sew some handles on it. Thanks in large part to the inspiration from that experience, we’re launching Universal Vests.