New Pictorial Tells Complex Rehab's Story in Photos

A new book by rehab veteran Mark Sullivan shows in photos what assistive technology professionals have long been saying with words: that mobility and independence are basic human rights, and that each complex rehab solution is as unique as its user.

Sullivan's "day job" is VP of rehab for Invacare Corp., but photography has long been another passion. His book, Denied, brings those two worlds together in hopes of educating referral and funding sources, among others.

Marilyn Hamilton, consumer advocate and Quickie wheelchairs co-founder, wrote Denied’s foreword.

"Primarily, my interest was always the photography," Sullivan says of the book's genesis. "I've been collecting (photos) over time." The idea of compiling them into a book "started percolating about six months ago, and then one day, I was just in one of those frustrated moods - from Congress and the bad press we're getting -so I sat down and wrote it out."

Denied is a personal project, formally unconnected to any rehab manufacturer, but once the first draft was done, Sullivan shared his plans with Invacare Chairman/CEO Mal Mixon. "Mal had the idea to get a consumer advocate to write the foreword. I immediately thought of Marilyn, and she agreed to do it."

Says Hamilton, "I'm so proud of Mark for driving a laser focus and doing something more than just talking about the problems we're having -- really saying, 'Hey, industry, here's a practical guide that's going to be a tool to get us informed and take action.' It's heart-breaking to me after three decades to see us going backwards. The whole purpose of technology was to be able to use it, and to more efficiently get people out there in their lives. We just have not had sufficient exposure."

The book is available through online publisher Blurb (click HERE to see Denied on the Blurb Web site), and site visitors can page through the book by using the Preview mode. The book's pricing -- $22.95 for softcover, $33.95 for hardcover -- pays for printing and production. No one else involved -- not Sullivan, Hamilton or Invacare -- is profiting from the project.

Sullivan hopes the book can be a tangible educational tool, something rehab providers can hand to legislators. And he hopes the numerous photos will communicate complex rehab's point quickly.

"It has to be visual," Sullivan says. "If you're not involved in the industry, you can't connect. My goal is that people will buy (a book) and give it to their payor, to their Congressman, give it to their senator. I also wanted to show people what we were capable of as an industry in marketing. We in the complex rehab world have a heck of a story to tell."

Sullivan plans to sign copies of the book at Medtrade, an idea proposed by Mixon. "Mark put into print what we in the industry know," Mixon says. "That wheelchairs are more than commodities; that mobility is a right, not a benefit; that obsolete language is denying people the equipment they need."

"It's a really well-laid-out tool to see the problem first-hand and how the right complex technology empowers people with the freedom and opportunities to pursue life," Hamilton adds. "I'm hoping that we can get people informed and inspire them to take action."

About the Author

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

Rolling Dynamics, Rolling Resistance &  Optimizing Wheeled Prosthetics