Event Coverage

National Seating & Mobility Joins with Clinicians at Annual Symposium

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Do any of these phrases from funding sources sound familiar?

"They're twins; can they share the same walker?"

"Why does a wheelchair need casters?"

"Why can't a Hoyer lift be used as a stander?"

If they do, or if they remind you of similar mind-bending questions you've been asked, you can understand why National Seating & Mobility's (NSM) annual symposium at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort this year sought to bring occupational and physical therapists into the mix.

While NSM's high-end rehab focus means some of its own rehab technology suppliers (RTS's) have clinical backgrounds, this year's meeting was the first in which OTs and PTs had their own concurrent educational sessions. NSM suppliers invited clinicians they frequently work with to attend the conference, which included a rehab equipment exhibit hall and face-to-face time with NSM President/CEO Mike Ballard. OTs and PTs also joined RTS's for joint sessions on subjects of interest to both suppliers and clinicians, such as a talk by Maureen Murphy-Stanton from Kaiser Permanente called "Raising the Bridge or Lowering the Water: Blending Equipment with Environments." The underlying goal: to strengthen the knowledge and working relationships between RTS's and other members of the rehab team.

One of the recurring themes of the symposium was the incredible impact that RTS' actions have on the rest of that rehab team, including clinicians, funding sources, caregivers and clients. Group discussions proved just how complex that impact can be. For instance, after RTS's shared inexpensive, yet brilliantly efficient "fixes" for tough equipment problems — such as adding the cut-off fingertips of rubber gloves to posts so knobs don't come off — Simon Margolis, VP of clinical and professional development for NSM, asked, "Do cheap, creative solutions hurt the industry's professionalism?"

Addressing another tough issue — the tendency of RTS's to work brutally long hours — Margolis advised, "If you take care of yourself, you will take care of (clients)… You're not in this business to help a single client, but to help all your clients. Maintain balance."

At his annual talk with the industry and his RTS's, Mike Ballard addressed the constant rolling out of new products: "There's nothing wrong with a little bit better, but it's kind of gotten out of control in rehab. We sold 30 different kinds of power chairs last year… We can't possibly train our technicians that often. Children and highly disabled people are not a testing ground."

Ballard also mentioned competitive bidding and its possible effect on rehab, especially when rehab is viewed as part of HME. "Our room of the house has always been like Cinderella's room," he pointed out. "I want my own room. I've always thought rehab should be carved out. It's time to move out (of the house).

"Let's get behind the political action," Ballard urged. "And let's get over the goal line."

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

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