U.S. Rehab Tech Training: All Hands on Chairs!


SAN DIEGO — Quick: What function does a deep-cycle battery perform in mobility applications that makes it different from an automotive starting battery?

If you attended U.S. Rehab's 2005 Technical Training in Southern California, you know the answer (see end of story). If you didn't attend, the good news is that U.S. Rehab will hold two additional training events — June 1-3 in Waterloo, Iowa, as part of the Heartland Conference; and Sept. 12-15 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

What makes the training so valuable is the hands-on nature of the course. U.S. Rehab invites participating vendors — this year, MK Battery, National Power Chair, Permobil, Pride Mobility, and Quickie — to begin with chalk talks. But the note-taking quickly gives way to the chance to take equipment apart down to the tires, troubleshoot problems, perform the repair, then put everything back together.

"The hands-on portion of our classes is really where the attendee puts their new-found knowledge to use," says Jerry Keiderling, VP of U.S. Rehab. "It's one thing to be told how to properly seat new brushes in a motor, but to actually do that yourself in a learning environment — that's when the knowledge really gets locked in. They retain more knowledge by putting it to the test."

Technicians came from as far away as Elkhart, Ind., and Dallas to attend the four-day conference, which, despite its intensive nature, was also informal and welcoming, with plenty of time for Q&A. While U.S. Rehab designs the courses for a technician who's been in the field at least a year, classmates at the California venue ranged in experience from four days to 18 years on the job.

"This course is designed to bring out the best in everyone, no matter what their field experience is," Keiderling explains. "Our objective is to pass on not only the 'tips of the trade,' but to reinforce the basics of power technology in and of itself. When you look at it from a broad perspective, a power chair is a power chair. The difference comes in with each vendor specializing their product with unique features, components and programming."

Since not everyone makes it to Medtrade to check out new equipment, the U.S. Rehab course tries to ensure that a technician has had the chance to work on new technology first hand. "This is where we sort out the confusion and dig into the differences and likenesses of all," Keiderling says. "Our goal is to give them the knowledge they need to feel comfortable diagnosing equipment problems, repairing them properly and completely, and doing so with confidence in the least amount of time."

U.S. Rehab/VGM members can find more information about the training courses by going to www.usrehab.com, calling (800) 987-7342 or visiting booth #1027 at Medtrade Spring. At the end of the course, students are tested and awarded certification recognition seals for scores of 70-80 percent correct (Blue Star of Accomplishment), 80-90 percent (White Star) and 90-100 percent (Red Star).

Oh, for you quiz-takers: The answer to the opening question, as discussed by MK Battery's Dennis Sharpe, is that deep-cycle batteries are used as fuel tanks and are recharged on a regular basis.

This article originally appeared in the April 2005 issue of Mobility Management.

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