Embracing "No Size Fits All"
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Jun 01, 2012
I’ve never been a girlie-girl except in one stereotypical way: I love shoes. I had a favorite store for my
“shoe fix,” manned by a salesman named Brian who trotted over with a stack of cardboard boxes —
filled with shoes in my size — whenever he saw me.
Brian never had to hard-sell me, for the same reason you don’t hard-sell a steak to a rottweiler. I’m
sure fashionistas can quote chapter and verse of shoe aesthetics — what colors and styles would
look best on me, and which ones would do me no favors. But Brian offered no such opinions. Once
in awhile, I’d get a faint doubt about a shoe I already loved, and would ask vaguely if the shoe would
be good for tradeshow walking. If it was, Brian said so enthusiastically. If not, he was politely noncommittal,
not wanting to dampen my enthusiasm for it. If I loved it, he loved it. If his next customer
loved it too, of course he would say it was the perfect match for her as well.
This wasn’t Brian’s fault. Porsche doesn’t say its cars are too sporty to be practical for some
customers. Apple doesn’t say the iPhone isn’t for everyone. Krispy Kreme doesn’t mention that some
people ought to abstain from its glazed donuts. Right?
Now: Contrast that model with what happens in complex rehab technology.
In this issue, I interviewed, among others, Mary Boegel, Lauren Rosen and Mark Schmitt. I interviewed
them one at a time and without mentioning who else I was talking to.
I talked to Lauren about RESNA’s new position paper on ultralight chairs (see page 18). In discussing
the need to fit an ultralight to the needs of the individual client, Lauren said, “There’s no perfect chair
that you know, just by picking it, is going to work for everybody.”
Maybe that’s not so unusual; after all, Lauren is a physical therapist at the Motion Analysis Center, St.
Joseph’s Children’s Hospital of Tampa. She is therefore not on any manufacturer’s payroll.
But then I talked to Mary, who is the president of Prime Engineering. We discussed both gait trainers
(see Best Picks, starting on page 8) and standers (see page 27), because Prime Engineering offers both
types of systems. As Mary described the various benefits gait trainers can offer, she mentioned both
her company’s products and products from competitors. Why?
“As you well know,” Mary said by way of explanation, “not one product out there is for everybody.”
Shortly after, I talked to Mark Schmitt, director of sales & marketing for Altimate Medical. By definition,
Mark is supposed to talk up his Easystand line of standing frames and accessories. He did offer a
lot of great information about his lineup, but he also talked about other standing options. Why?
“I’d love to say our product works best, but it’s not for everybody,” he explained.
What’s going on here?
The answer can be found in our monthly CMS Update column (page 34). This issue, we’ve devoted
the page to the introduction of a very special U.S. House bill.
Introduced April 16 by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Ways & Means committee,
H.R. 4378 is “Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2012.”
The bill establishes complex rehab technology as an entirely different benefit from DME. It recognizes
the expertise and investments of complex rehab technology practitioners. It defines the types
of seating & mobility products that require customized building, fitting and adjustments. It names
consumers who would benefit from this bill, states why they need this highly specialized class of technology,
and expresses the fact that under current Medicare policy and funding, consumers are having
trouble accessing this technology and these practitioners.
This bill acknowledges that complex rehab technology is not a matter of one size fitting all. Not just
another retail product, like shoes and HDTVs. And that the people who practice it are not just selling
off -the-shelf products to anyone who stops by.
Godspeed, H.R. 4378.
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Mobility Management.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at (949) 265-1573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.