What Are The Three Types of Restraints?

Reviewed on 7/14/2020

What Are Restraints?

Restraints must be used carefully in healthcare settings to avoid injury. Physical or chemical restraints are necessary to keep disoriented, psychotic or otherwise violent patients from harming themselves and others. Its important to make sure the restraints themselves do not harm the person, however.
Restraints must be used carefully in healthcare settings to avoid injury. Physical or chemical restraints are necessary to keep disoriented, psychotic or otherwise violent patients from harming themselves and others. Its important to make sure the restraints themselves do not harm the person, however.
In a healthcare setting, restraints are used for many reasons, including protecting a patient from self-harm or from harming others, to keep people safe.

What Are the Three Types of Restraints?

There are three types of restraints:

  • Physical restraints, which limit a person’s movement
    • May include devices that limit a specific part of the body, such as arms or legs
    • Belts or vests may be used to keep a patient in a bed or chair
    • Trays may keep a person in a wheelchair
    • Bed rails or belts may keep a person confined to a bed
  • Chemical restraints are medications not used to treat illness, but used to sedate people 
    • Includes sedatives or antipsychotics 
    • May be used to quickly sedate violent patients
    • Usually given as a pill or injection
  • Environmental restraints are those that limit where a person can go
    • May include seclusion or isolation
    • Patients should be monitored at all times by healthcare providers
    • Door alarms may prevent people from passing beyond a specific point

What Are Problems with Restraints?

Restraints should be used carefully when all other crisis management strategies have failed to work. Restraints should be used for the shortest time possible.

Problems with restraints include:

  • Limiting a person’s ability to function independently 
    • Chemical restraints may leave a person too sedated to act
    • Physical restraints such as a tray on a wheelchair may keep a person from moving about freely
    • Increased frustration and restlessness
  • Restriction of freedoms
    • May be inappropriate or excessive
    • Can lead to loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
    • Creates stress
  • Risk of injury or harm
    • Restraints can cause injuries, e.g. attempts to climb a bed rail can result in a fall
    • Confusion and disorientation
  • Loss of abilities
    • Prolonged sedation can lead to loss of physical or cognitive abilities

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Reviewed on 7/14/2020
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