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Upwardly Mobile

For me, even before there was Mobility Management, there were top speeds, camber, wheels, tires and torque. That's because for me, before there was Medtrade there were motorcycles, and before that, there were cars: Mustangs, tri-five Chevys and rock-crawling Jeep CJ7s.

This issue of MM marks a bit of a return to my automotive journalism roots, as we unveil our new adaptive automotive access column called Car Keys. This column, which will appear regularly in MM, will bring you technology updates, manufacturer news, research, event coverage … and real stories of real mobility dealers and customers. In addition to covering automotive access in more depth, Car Keys will also talk about the segment as it relates to mobility and rehab. A great example of that is our premiere column, which discusses safely transporting bariatric clients in automotive vehicles while they're in their wheelchairs.

MM's coverage of automotive access also includes a partnership with the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), whose newsletter, Circuit Breaker, will include original features by Mobility Management editors in 2006. And look for coverage of the 2006 NMEDA show in an upcoming issue.

So why are we revving up this Car Keys column? First, wheelchair manufacturers are accelerating their automotive access interests, via new products, acquisitions and more WC-19 crash-tested wheelchairs. For years, liability issues caused wheelchair manufacturers to flatly recommend against end-users staying in their wheelchairs while traveling by car. Today, manufacturers are more frequently acknowledging that such transport does happen — and they're working to make that transport safer.

Second, automotive transport is a natural segue for a lot of mobility dealers and rehab suppliers, whose clients so often want to travel by car, minivan or bus. Being able to install a vehicle lift or sell a converted van makes sense to growing numbers of mobility and rehab professionals.

And ultimately, we're debuting Car Keys because, despite Medicare's antiquated in-the-home rule, people want to explore, socialize, learn, work, worship and play. Last winter's White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) not only called for our society to enable seniors to stay in their homes, but also to enable them to safely and independently travel inside and outside their communities. One of WHCoA's conclusions seems to be that aging in place is only truly valuable if we can also age in the communities of our choice.

And that requires the ability to, at least occasionally, take to the open road.

This article originally appeared in the March 2006 issue of Mobility Management.

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