Editor's Note

A Few of My Favorite Things

Scout's honor: I cannot think of a single mobility, accessibility or complex rehab topic that doesn't interest me. That's the truth.

Nevertheless, I do have favorite topics, ones that continue to fascinate me year after year (and Mobility Management is in Year 10, if you're keeping count). One favorite topic is skin integrity. I just love it. I don't love what shear does, mind you — but I love the physics and clinical aspects of it. The grades of pressure sores, how they start, pressure distribution methods…don't get me started.

There are few other topics that turn my head as much as pressure, but here's one — ultralightweight chair propulsion. Love it. Love it. One of the first classes I ever attended was on the different types of propulsion strokes: the figure-8, the loop, the double loop…I was in heaven. For days, everyone in the office who moved too slowly to get away was treated to a mini lecture — with visual aids — on the different types of propulsion strokes, what they looked like, how effective they were.

I was a little crushed, therefore, to hear in subsequent educational courses that wheelchair propulsion was getting the blame for so many shoulder, arm and hand injuries. To me, ultralightweight chairs are works of art. I think they're beautiful. As the old automotive saying goes, the best ones look fast, just standing still. How could they be causing pain?

I've learned over the years that this situation is a lot more complex than "Propulsion = Pain." In our annual Living Well with SCI Handbook — included in this issue — we explore the enormous weight borne by the shoulders of wheelchair users, with a particular focus on consumers who propel their own chairs. We discuss why people who use wheelchairs — power or manual — can be at heightened risk for shoulder injury, and what preventive measures can be taken, not just via proper chair configuration, but also through assessing consumers' entire environments. And don't miss the sidebar about a new Paralyzed Veterans of America grant that examines this issue from a real-world, rather than a laboratory, perspective.

By the way: years ago, TiLite's Marty Ball assured me that propelling a wheelchair, even for many years, does not automatically equate to injuries and pain. He shares his ultralightweight wheelchair perspective.

Meanwhile, in MM September, we also have — well, did I mention I love talking about pressure? If you spend much of your time under pressure as well, be sure to catch the latest installment of our Cushion Comparo. There, you'll get a pictorial and statistical comparison of seat cushions currently available for ordering, along with suggested applications, such as clients who need significant skin protection. Download a pdf of this comparo so you can share it with colleagues, referral sources, clinicians... anyone who could benefit from knowing more about the latest seat cushions.

And finally, this issue features a special editorial section on accessibility — automotive and home, with WC19 and WC20 crash-tested systems included as well. Because once your clients are in properly configured seating & mobility systems, of course they will have plenty of places to go and people to see. Our accessibility story highlights industry trends as well as consumer demands…and there are a lot of them! We also include an accessibility showcase of products that offer practical and ingenious solutions for wheelchair users and their families.

So September's jam-packed issue is a wrap. But be sure to come back for October, when we celebrate 10 years in print by examining the issues and technology that have been real milestones in the last decade. We'll reminisce, remember and check in with as many industry experts as we can fit into this special edition. Because chatting it up with the terrific people in seating & mobility is also one of my favorite things to do.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

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

Seating Benefits Podcast with Ride Designs