Ambulation Assistance: Strong Side or Weak Side

  1. 0
    Hi there.

    I've just finished the first week of my CNA class and I've found some conflicting information in our book and the videos that we watch.

    Specifically, when assisting ambulation using a gait belt, on which side of the resident do you stand?

    The video said to stand on the resident's weak side. This makes sense to me because:
    1. It would keep me clear of a cane which would be used on the strong side
    2. It would allow the resident to grip wall-rails with their strong-side hand/arm
    3. The resident seems more likely to fall to their weak side. It's safer for my back if they fall toward me than if they fall away from me.
    However, our book says to assist from the strong side but doesn't provide a justification. I asked our instructor who agreed and said that being on the strong side permitted the resident to support themselves on a wall-rail on their weak side. This makes no sense to me because how could they possibly support themselves with a weak-side arm?

    So, what do the real-world CNA's do; assist from the strong side or from the weak side?
    Last edit by ♪♫ in my ♥ on Aug 25, '07
  2. 8 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    I'm not a CNA yet, but I always assist the person on his/her weak side. Assisting on the strong side doesn't make much sense to me.


    Here's a passage from my textbook (Mosby's):

    Stand at the person's weak side while he or she gains balance. [...] Help the person walk. Walk to the side and slightly behind the person on the person's weak side. [...] Encourage the person to use the hand rail on his or her strong side.
    Last edit by zooz on Aug 25, '07 : Reason: Added more from textbook.
  4. 0
    You ambulate from the pt's weak side. Your book and instructor are wrong, you are right!
  5. 1
    I think that you are automatically assuming that the resident will have a cane or wall rails handy to grip. I honestly almost always go for the strong side. I place myself behind the resident one hand on the belt the other free for the resident to use for support as they need it. So they are using me as the cane/wall rail.

    If the resident has an assistive device I think I would still stay on the stronger side that way if they were to start to fall or drop the cane I'm right there on the stronger side so they can grab ahold of my arm. When walking these patients I again place myself behind them, but instead of offering them my second hand I'll gently place it on their hip so if they start to slip down I have a hand I can quickly slip up to their underarm.

    Think of it this way, if a person starts to fall and you are on their weak side, they can't grab ahold of your hand and help you steady them or lower them to the ground. Their lack of help makes them a lot heavier.
    ShyGecko likes this.
  6. 0
    You have to do a patient by patient M & H assessment for this.Usually ,with a stroke patient who has some sort of walking aid, I would go on the weak side but if I am walking with a stroke patient without an aid I would go to the strong side as that is the arm they can link with yours when walking.If using a gait belt I would be at the weaker side but with my arm very firmly holding the loop at the stronger side. Usually ,however there are usually two of us if the patient requires a gait belt.
  7. 0
    Quote from casi
    I think that you are automatically assuming that the resident will have a cane or wall rails handy to grip. I honestly almost always go for the strong side. I place myself behind the resident one hand on the belt the other free for the resident to use for support as they need it. So they are using me as the cane/wall rail.

    If the resident has an assistive device I think I would still stay on the stronger side that way if they were to start to fall or drop the cane I'm right there on the stronger side so they can grab ahold of my arm. When walking these patients I again place myself behind them, but instead of offering them my second hand I'll gently place it on their hip so if they start to slip down I have a hand I can quickly slip up to their underarm.

    Think of it this way, if a person starts to fall and you are on their weak side, they can't grab ahold of your hand and help you steady them or lower them to the ground. Their lack of help makes them a lot heavier.
    This is exactly how our instructor taught us also. She also said that if you stand on their weak side and they fall, most likely they will fall towards their weak side, i.e. toward you. Usually this will cause you to loose your balance and you will both fall. If they fall away from you, then you can catch them and it is safer for both of you that way.
  8. 1
    Our instructor told us to stay on their strong side unless they are using a cane - then stay on their weak side. They said that you stay on their strong side and the patient falls, they will want to grab you for support with their strong side because they really won't be able to with their weaker side.
    cassandra83 likes this.
  9. 0
    Our Fundamentals of Nursing book (Potter & Perry) says we should be on the weak side, whether or not they have a cane. And that the cane would go on the strong side.
  10. 0
    omg and I have test tomorrow and this is the only qestion that i cant answer


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