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Grey’s Anatomy Conveys Public Service Announcement for the Amputee Coalition

Kudos to Grey’s Anatomy in providing a recent public service announcement for the Amputee Coalition and for bringing awareness to the rehabilitation process that amputee’s experience. The emotions, courage and eventual triumph that Doctor Arizona Robbins depicted in her recovery was an inspirational message to their more than 11 million regular viewers.

In this year’s story line of the award winning drama series, Doctor Robbins returns after having been in a plane crash with several other doctors. Robbins loses her leg in the crash and then struggles emotionally with her loss. After a season-long journey of recovery, including being fitted with a prosthesis and physical therapy staff, Robbins makes her way back to performing  surgery (now with a prosthetic leg). In writing and filming the series, the writers went to the Amputee Coalition for advice in making the script as realistic as possible. 

Grey's Anatomy star provides a public service announcement
Shown above is actress Jessica Capshaw (Doctor Arizona Robbins) providing a public service announcement on limb loss and the Amputee Coalition.

“This is the first time on national television that viewers will be shown the arduous journey following amputation,” said Kendra Calhoun, President & CEO of the Amputee Coalition.  According the coalition website, they worked with Grey’s Anatomy to provide insight into limb loss and the journey to recovery and readjustment. Now in its 9th season, the popular ABC drama has been nominated for 25 prime time Emmy awards.

Part of the Amputee Coalition’s mission is to promote limb loss prevention. To learn more about the organization and how you can help, visit //amputee-coalition.org and the Limb Loss Center for more information.

Worker’s Compensation Claims Requiring a Mobility Vehicle

This article was originally written  for the summer issue of the Georgia State Bar Workers Compensation Law newsletter by Michael Dresdner, MobilityWorks Director of Customer Care

When I first entered the field of accessible transportation in 1990 consumers as well as payers had few choices as to what was provided to a claimant. Additionally, there was little adherence to safety standards and mobility equipment dealers were literally praised for forging raw steel into useful transportation solutions and alternatives. Very few “manufactured devices” were available and if instructions were provided they contained phrases like “field modify as necessary”.

A great deal has changed in 22 years. There have been improvements in how products and solutions are provided. Most devices and conversions are now precision-manufactured by high quality companies. Much has been accomplished and changed for the better, but there is still work to do. In many cases the knowledge of these changes and how to leverage that knowledge to insure the best outcome for the claimant has not kept pace. Many rehabilitation professionals in the field of workers’ compensation infrequently work through the details of providing mobility vehicles or mobility equipment and therefore never become “experts”.

Unlike the way mobility equipment dealers operated in 1990, we are now typically a well run enterprise resembling an auto dealership, stocking vehicles as well as equipment that can be readied in days versus months. Clean, fully accessible facilities are now the norm. In today’s world vehicles as well as equipment and the installation of the equipment must meet multiple federal standards. Mobility equipment dealerships mandate that employees receive ongoing training and certification in their unique fields of expertise.  Vehicles now have advanced electrical systems that require significant skill to troubleshoot and repair. Where we were once praised by payers and consumers for the rudimentary devices we cobbled together, both now have serious expectations of mobility equipment dealers and mobility vehicles in general. In many cases all parties hold us accountable to the highest standards of quality, safety and functionality. Unfortunately, in some cases, expectations are not clearly outlined or properly communicated and less than ideal outcomes occur.

The process of providing a transportation alternative to a person with a disability has become a complex task. When you merge the complexity of our products and services with the “unique cocktail” that is the workers’ compensation system, sometimes the outcomes do not make sense. These mixed outcomes are what motivated me to write this article. The pressures from the workers’ compensation system often force the sourcing of product through odd channels, and the end result befuddles everyone involved! It is not uncommon for three or more different parties to request a quote from a mobility equipment dealer and the party that makes the purchase is often influenced by factors that do not prioritize the claimant and keenly focus on his or her needs. For example, a request for a quote could potentially come from an insurer, a re-insurer and a managed care provider and sometimes from a local case manager or possibly an outside “consultant” — or any combination of the five! This chaotic mix rarely yields the best outcome and it may not end up being cost effective. Controls are often sacrificed due to the multiple parties involved with their differing agendas.

Equipping a car or van for someone with a disability is unique to that individual’s disability, lifestyle, and personal mobility device (wheelchair or scooter). The vehicle modification can yield positive outcomes, but there can be outcomes that just do not work or worse can cause physical problems for the user. One scenario that repeats itself often with seasoned claimants (those seeking a replacement vehicle) as they age is that the claimants mistakenly believe that they have good transfer skills and that they are not at risk for shoulder issues. They are often reluctant to let go of transferring to an automotive seat versus driving from the wheelchair. Someone has to say, “no” and clearly explain the risks. Many times, I have found myself as the one who seriously raises this issue.

The best way to avoid problems is to follow a plan, not unlike the claimant’s plan for rehabilitation.

Driver Evaluation, Fitting and Training

Regardless of whether the claimant is a passenger or will be an independent driver, be certain that he/she is evaluated by a CDRS (Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist). The CDRS recognizes disabilities, has an awareness of the available adaptive equipment and knows the implications each has on driving or being transported. These professionals are certified by the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists. If you are not familiar with those that serve your area, find a CDRS at www.aded.net. Here in the Atlanta area we have two programs that employ CDRS’s as well as Occupational Therapists: the Shepherd Center Assistive Technology Program and Freedom and Mobility, a private firm. Both programs often travel to see a client. Your investment in a driver or passenger evaluation will definitely pay off. Without an evaluation you will not have a specific set of specifications to use to request quotes. Once “apples and oranges” get mixed, the process can fail.

The need for evaluating a driver may seem obvious, but why evaluate a passenger? There are a number of problems that can arise when a disabled passenger is not evaluated. These can include safety issues, claimant fit, as well as weight issues. Designing a modification plan is varied and complex, even for a passenger.

In addition to the initial evaluation, the CDRS should meet with the claimant and the vendor at the time of the vehicle delivery to confirm the claimant’s ability to use the equipment, that the vehicle is delivered as promised and that all the equipment operates properly and safely. If the vehicle is to be driven independently, the CDRS would confirm the placement of all driving controls (fitting), work with the mobility equipment dealer to make final adjustments and then drive with the claimant. Additional training over an extended period of time could be required depending on the complexity of the equipment or the type and severity of the disability. It is recommended that a representative from the payer be present at the delivery of a

Pittsburgh Branch Tops 500 Mark for OT Professionals In Training

MobilityWorks performs in-service seminars and training fr new OT/PTs
OT students from Chatham University at our Pittsburgh store location.

Arming Future Occupational Therapists with Knowledge to Solve Mobility Needs

For more than 4 years, the Pittsburgh team has been providing training for graduate students in occupational therapy from local universities. The university of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University have been regular participants in the one day seminars designed to help the OT’s perform clinical diagnosis, and to help them determine what kind of driving equipment would be indicated to assure that the patient can drive safely. 

Today it was the students from Chatham University that were back at the branch office for hands on training and product demonstrations. GM Lance Alexander was joined by former driving evaluator turned Certified Mobility Consultant (CMC) Clint Rabold, as well as Dr. Peter Weagraff, in presenting to the group. Pittsburgh CDRS and former ADED President Amy Lane coordinates these events between the schools and MobilityWorks, and she is the one who develops the case studies and course content for the day. 

OT/PT trainig seminars on mobility wheelchair adaptive products
Learning about alternative driving solutions such as "The Conquest" motorcycle are part of the program.

With the 38 students in attendance on June 12th, the Pittsburgh branch has now topped the 500 mark for young OT professionals who received training at the Pittsburgh facility, before going out into clinics and patient homes to begin their very promising, and long careers.

“These therapists will be face to face with patients every day who need the products and services we offer,” said Alexander. “We certainly want to arm them with the knowledge that they need to know what is available and where it can be obtained in an effort to better solve client / patient needs.”

“It’s a win-win-win,” added Dr. Weagraff. “Hopefully with our potential clients winning the most, but also a win for the OT grad students and for MobilityWorks. And frankly, these events are just plain fun to do!”

April is National Limb Loss Awareness Month – 500 Limbs Lost Per Day

Limb loss can happen to young children as well as adults
Limb loss due to medical conditions or accidents affect people of all ages. This young lady was at a Shriner's Hospital for rehabilitation with her prosthetic legs.

It’s estimated that more than 500 Americans lose a limb each day. More than two million Americans are currently living with a limb loss. Amazing statistics that many of us are shocked to hear. Perhaps it’s because prosthetic limbs have come such a long way that it can be hard to tell whether some is missing a limb or not. People with limb loss are around us every day, more than we realize, living full and active lives. I even know of a few police officers who have only one leg, marines who were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they can outrun most any bad guy in a chase! Many of our clients using wheelchair vans and/or hand controls use a prosthetic.

The Amputee Coalition is at the heart of a movement to educate the public about limb loss, especially in April, when they celebrate National Limb Loss Awareness Month. Their mission: to bring awareness about the risk factors and preventative steps that people can take to avoid losing limbs.

There are many causes of limb loss, such as auto accidents or construction injuries. Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a shark! But many amputations that occur in the USA are preventable, due to medical conditions such as diabetes and peripheral vascular disease. The Amputee Coalition website has an informative listing they call “25 Ways to Avoid Limb Loss” with brief description identifying each. Go to their Limb Loss link here.

In addition to awareness, the Amputee Coalition offers scholarship programs, a marketplace for products, community forums for people with different interests and much more. They also have a comprehensive online library of resources, articles and publications called the National Limb Loss Information Center (NLLIC). You to also make donations online to help their cause. Go to www.amputee-coalition.org  learn more about this terrific organization.

National Mobility Awareness Month in May Includes 3 New Wheelchair Vans Going to Essay Contest Winners

NMEDA National Mobility Awareness Month
Three vans will be given away in May as part of the National Mobility Awareness Month campaign.

First Ever National Mobility Awareness Month Coming in May – Local Hero Nominees Being Sought for Van Giveaways 

MobilityWorks is proud to announce its participation in the first ever National Mobility Awareness Month this coming May. And as part of the celebration, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association and its partners are giving away three wheelchair accessible vans to local hero essay contest winners.  Mobility dealers, groups and organizations are encouraged to nominate deserving individuals by submitting a 1 to 3-minute video and 400 word essay and photos about the nominee. They will be accepting nomination starting March 18th all the way up to May 13th. However, the sooner you get the nominations in the better because visitors to the MobilityAwarenessMonth.com website will have a chance to vote for their favorites. Voting will begin April 1st and ends May 13th.

What is a local hero? They can be anyone in your community including persons with disabilities, a caregiver, veteran or anyone who has helped others to overcome their mobility challenges. If you have someone that you are nominating, please let us know so that we can help to “get out the vote” for a particular hero. 

The winners of the three wheelchair vans will be announced by NMEDA toward the end of May on national television. We look forward to bringing more awareness to the general public and with creating a buzz about the many different options that people now have to live  productive lives with the help of our vans, scooter lifts and driving aid products. Additional information and nominee submission links can be found at www.MobilityAwarenessMonth.com.