With Thanks to Those Who “Boldly Go”

Industry magazines can’t thrive in a vacuum. A magazine worth reading has to be an entire industry’s endeavor. And since I’m not privy to private information belonging to mobility/rehab dealers, providers and manufacturers, every month I have to ask for help and information that I can turn into stories.

I’d like to think that Mobility Management, now in its eighth year, has built a trustworthy reputation — someone you’d want to entrust information to. I also understand there’s a lot of proprietary information in any business that needs to be kept confidential. It’s nothing personal: Companies just can’t afford to have their secrets, procedures and core knowledge strewn across MM’s printed pages.

I also know time is often the most valuable commodity of all, and that there isn’t time enough in a day to fight all the fights we’d like to.
That’s why I’m so proud of this issue.

First, there’s our premiere story on power wheelchair testing. Manufacturers’ testing procedures are among the most proprietary bits of information in the industry, for obvious reasons. Testing is directly related to engineering, to performance and safety, to the creation of the features that make a chair unique in its product line and competitive in the industry. And yet, when we asked manufacturers to open up and tell us how, where and why they conduct their power chair tests, lo and behold — they answered!

And as if asking about power chair testing weren’t controversial enough for one issue, we also have a feature on WC 19, aka the crash-testing standard for wheelchairs used as seating in motor vehicles. Dr. Lawrence Schneider, one of WC 19’s experts, was kind enough to give his learned opinion, and then we asked manufacturers to share theirs. Once again, they braved this very complex topic to give us their honest thoughts.

Then there are people like Phil Wegman, ATS, CRTS, of Halls Medical in Centralia, Wash. Phil interrupted his New Year’s holiday to enlist as one of my badly needed ATP exam mentors. In explaining why he was willing to add another task to a schedule that already sees him working holidays, Phil said, “I missed an opportunity a couple of years back to sit on the NRRTS review board, and I've kicked myself ever since. One thing is certain: It is time for dedicated professionals in our beleaguered industry to join forces and work closer as a team. In my opinion, this is the only way CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) will finally give us the respect we deserve.” Right on the heels of Phil’s e-mail came a message from Lauren Rosen at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital of Tampa, who also volunteered to mentor me.

It’s amazing to me how Phil, Lauren and folks like them respond to hard times by simply working harder. About a third of my e-mails from providers, for instance, arrive after 9 p.m. or on weekends or holidays. Several of our manufacturer interviewees this month also stayed late to answer my questions. It’s hard work to support your industry, and sharing your secrets, opinions and policies requires a lot of bravery. And yet, people keep stepping up — not just for this issue, but all of them, it seems.

Virgil said, “Fortune favors the bold.” That seems a valid phrase to remember as we fight — together — through these challenging times.

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

Rolling Dynamics, Rolling Resistance &  Optimizing Wheeled Prosthetics