Blue Skies

We didn’t intentionally set out to make this our “blue skies” issue. After all, reduced reimbursement rates, the impending need for accreditation and the advancing of competitive bidding have made for plenty of cloudy days for mobility and rehab providers the last few years.

But just in time for our June issue, several things happened to make us rethink this gray-skies attitude:
Turn to MMBeat to see our coverage of Permobil’s first-ever Power Surge event. The folks at Permobil invited rehab providers and clinicians to tour their Lebanon, Tenn., factory and to enjoy Nashville culture — while picking up plenty of CEUs, thanks to great educational sessions. Permobil President Larry Jackson set the tone of the event when he said, “Even if you lose all your Medicare business, you can survive.” Jackson added that he wasn’t buying the “doom and gloom” predictions about this industry. And several presenters at the event said the same thing.

Among them was one of the keynote speakers, Marc Buoniconti. A former college football player and son of a National Football League Hall-of-Famer, Marc is now president of The Miami Project, which researches spinal cord injuries and seeks to cure paralysis. He received a standing ovation from attendees, but Marc himself paid homage to rehab professionals who work with people with severe disabilities: “You are a silver lining in their lives… You help make their lives more manageable.” It was impossible to come away from Marc’s speech uninspired.

If you’re looking for business inspiration just now, check out our cover story on home accessibility. The growth potential for this segment is huge, whether you work with seniors who want to age in place, or with younger families caring for children or spouses at home. More good news: We spoke to Dan Bawden, a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) remodeler and member of the National Association of Home Builders. Dan also teaches CAPS courses, and the curriculum encourages remodelers to work with DME suppliers and seating & mobility clinicians! Check out what Dan said about why the CAPS program sees such value in these partnerships.

And finally, don’t miss this issue’s Funding Essentials column, penned by Rick Graver, ATS, CRTS, and owner of Medtech Services in Reno, Nev. Rick gives a first-person account of how Medtech became accredited. Rick admits he and his staff weren’t initially excited about the work involved, but from the very start, they tackled the task as a team, worked in teams and practiced procedures as a team. And in the end, Medtech staffers learned the accreditation process wasn’t as impossible as it might have first seemed.

Rick believes a mobility/rehab business can benefit from the accreditation process while maintaining the core concepts and traits that matter most. Twenty years ago, Rick says he and business partner Mike Naus “started repairing wheelchairs and have stayed true to our roots.” Between its start in 1988 and today, Medtech has moved three times and faced a number of challenges, including Mike’s passing in 2001. But the vision that Rick and Mike had 20 years ago continues. “Service is the heart of our business, and we have grown to include rehab, adaptive automotive and most DME,” Rick says. “We are still here taking care of many of the same customers we started with… I quickly realized the reward of helping people, and that still carries me through the tough times.”

If that sentiment sounds familiar to you, maybe you’ll understand why we’re seeing blue skies beyond all the gray.

This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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