Bed and chair transfers

After surgery, simple transfers such as getting in and out of a bed or a chair will temporarily become more challenging. In this information module, you will learn how to safely make day-to-day transfers.

The first few weeks you will be walking on crutches/walker. This must be taken into account when making a transfer. Make sure your crutches/walker are always within reach.

Don’t hesitate to ask your physical therapist who will give you personalized advice based on your personal evaluation.


The first time you get out of bed in the hospital, you will be accompanied by a member of the staff. Do not attempt to do this alone whilst the risks linked to the surgery are still present (dizziness, low blood pressure, etc).   

Getting in the bed

A) Stand with your back towards the bed. Back up (using your crutches/walker) until you feel your bed. Make sure you are close to the cushion, in the upper part of the bed. Sit down on the edge of your bed while extending the operated leg.

B) Support yourself using your arms and scoot your bottom back.
Cross your non-operated leg behind the other one, place the hand which is on the side where you are going to put your feet, behind your back and then swivel your legs and body to lift your legs onto the bed.

C) To better position yourself on the bed, bend the knee of the operated leg. Push with your arms the bent leg to slightly lift your bottom from the bed. In small steps, move until you are good position.

D) Position yourself in a safe sleeping position. 

D’) If you prefer to sleep on your side go to the info-module “sleep positions after joint replacement” for more information and the transfer is illustrated at the end of the video 

Getting out of bed

Make sure you have your shoes and crutches/walker close to your bed to avoid loss of balance or falling.

A) Bend the non-operated leg and straighten your trunk with the help of your arms and abdominal muscles to a semi-lying position.

B) Push with your arms and the bent leg in the bed to slightly lift your bottom of the bed. In small steps, move your body towards the edge of the bed.

C) You can cross your non-operated leg behind the operated one (if that feels more comfortable for you), then swivel your legs over the edge of the bed to sit up.

D) Put on your shoes or non-slip socks, move your bottom as close to the edge of the bed as possible. Move the foot of the non-operated leg as far back as possible while keeping the foot flat on the floor, extend the operated leg, bend forward very slightly and use your non-operated leg and your arms to stand up. Once upright, take your crutch(es)/walker.

This is one way of getting in and out bed safely after surgery. It might be that another way feels more comfortable to you. The hospital staff will help you find the way that fits you best.

Special note for hip replacements : 
Be careful not to spread your legs too far apart when transfering

Warning : in case of very recent abdominal or back surgery in addition to your arthroplasty, some movements suggested in these transfers should be avoided. In this case, ask your physical therapist for advice. 


Sitting down

Before sitting down make sure the seat is high enough. It should be higher than knee level to be able to sit down and stand up easily.

A) Use your crutch(es)/walker and back up until you feel the chair behind you.

B) Leave your crutch(es)/walker next to you and catch the armrests or lean on something else stable that can be used as an armrest (like a piece of furniture for exemple).
If there is none of that, you can use your crutch(es) like a armrest on the side which seems easiest for you. (like in the video below). Before moving on to step C, make sure your crutch(es) are stable and will not slip.

C) Sit down gently and slide the foot of the operated leg to prevent the leg from bending too much

Get up

A) Put your hands on the armrests or on the sides of the chair.

B) Move your bottom as close to the edge of your seat as possible, extending the affected leg (especially if the seat is low).

C) Move the foot of the non-operated leg as far back as possible while keeping the foot flat on the floor, bend forward very slightly and use your stronger leg and arms to stand up. Once upright, take your crutch(es).

Sitting down at the table and get up from the table

You can use the table on one side and the back of the chair on the other as an armrest.

To swivel on your chair be careful not to spread your legs too far apart. And take into account the legs of the table so you don’t have to bend your operated, stiff or painful knee too much.

You will learn how to perform day-to-day transfers in the hospital. The weeks after surgery you will become more mobile and stronger. You will become able to perform these transfers more easily. As soon as your leg allows, you can gradually start using your leg again during your transfers.

Updated on September 16, 2022

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