The only idea I can come up with is a push pull gage that is somehow linked to a arduino that then can read how much is being pulled
Seems a little overkill. Anyone above a very young toddler will exceed that weight. Just supply a tape measure - any child longer/taller than 3 feet needs to have the gait belt used:http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-childs-size-and-growth-timeline_10357633.bc
Hang a fish scale or a luggage scale between one end of the belt and the lifting device, examples:https://www.amazon.com/Moobom-Portable-Backlit-Display-Digital/dp/B01A6KH98Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=hunting-fishing&ie=UTF8&qid=1474401076&sr=1-2https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Z4TNHG6?psc=1
Why are you using the term "push pull"? You can't "push" a gait belt.To determine (approximately) the tension in a gait/transfer belt, you might be able to embed something like this in the belt and then monitor it with an Arduino...such as a Lilypad. Alternatively, a short section of the belt (or the buckle?) could contain a real load cell or strain gages that could be monitored by an Arduino.Patent Pending. PS: By the way, the tension in the belt will not be equal to the force of the pull exerted by the nurse. Determining the force of pull from the belt tension will not be easy to determine, since it depends on the geometry of the belt and the geometry will be highly variable (depends on the patient/belt diameter and how tight the belt is before the pull is applied). To get around that problem, you could design a handle that attaches to the belt, and monitor the tension in the connection between the handle and the belt. Patent Pending. PPS: the proper terminology to use in your title is "force of pull," not "weight of pull."
Where did you get that " < 35lb " specification ?Two nurses regularly have to get a >100kg person from a bed to a trolley. Their stress monitor is the nerves in their own backs, which gives realtime haptic feedback. It is mainly by good practical training and trolley height adjustment that they can minimise their load to that of rolling the patient rather than lifting.A bigger menace to the backs of medical staff than lack of more bleeping stress monitors is an increase in the number of patients too obese to fit through an unmodified doorway. Would it be correct to surcharge those ones if they are to be dug out, trucked off to hospital, X-rayed in the special high kV vetinary scanner in the large mammals section of the zoo and require other non-standard additional care ? Now you'll like this one : go and find some off duty nurses who'll discuss what they really want. Try asking them what they'd think of an EMP to shut up all those bleeps on the ward.
Could a load cell or strain gage be used on a fabric material (gait belt)? I was looking into those and it appeared to me to that those were used for metals.
Also the handles on a gait belt is a great idea. They do make gait belts with handles, it would just be a matter of once again figuring out how to determine the pull on those handles. Would the conductive rubber cord be able to measure that pull on a handle?
In my experience, they are usually used with metals - that's why I suggested the conductive rubber cord in the gait belt. But, as I mentioned, I can envision short metal insert in a gait belt (or made part of the buckle) that could use strain gauges. Note that the "conductive rubber cord in the belt" idea would have issues, too: the gait belt fabric would have to stretch enough to allow the cord to change length (so that its resistance would change a measurable amount). The typical gait belts I've seen (look like cotton fabric) aren't very stretchy. But I understand that there might be a move away from cloth belts (since they're hard to sanitize). Either way, there is the problem that gait belt tension is not necessarily equal to pulling force...not by a long shot, in some cases.It depends. Probably a load cell or strain gauges (a la electronic fish scales) would be more appropriate, but the devil is in the details of the handles and their connection to the belt.