Editor's Note

On Pins & Needles for the Silly Season

Once upon a time in the publishing biz, the “Silly Season” was a nickname for those latesummer days when slow news cycles caused desperate (or desperately bored) reporters to cover stories that would never have been considered had “real” news been available. In more modern times, the silly season is often used as a nickname for off-seasons in professional sports — again, a time when reporters who lack the usual contests to report on turn instead to reporting gossip or rumors or other trivial matters.

One could argue that the time after Medtrade — especially because the 2010 Medtrade show was less than a week before Thanksgiving — is the closest thing to an off-season that this industry has. Holidays, family and friends have been occupying our time and our thoughts, so if this industry has a breather, this is it (don’t look now, but the CELA and NMEDA conferences are next month, and ISS is the month after that!).

Of course, this being DME and complex rehab, there is nothing “silly” about our brief off-season. This year especially has been a time of pins and needles, with (at press time) competitive bidding and the elimination of the first-month purchase option for standard power chairs still planned to start in January. As the old year was winding down, providers were already feeling the strain, even before any new policies went into effect. As one Mobility Management reader e-mailed in early December, “We are shorthanded; they (clients) keep calling. I guess I’m not the norm, but it would be nice to catch up for a change… The number of vendors going down the tubes is going to kill me.”

If that sentiment feels familiar — or you wrote me that note! — this issue is for you.

Our first issue of the new year — the first issue of our 10th year in print! — features an “industry round table,” a rather fancy name for a story that turned out to have quite a conversational, friendly and positive tone to it. We asked our brand-new editorial advisory board a range of questions, from what they’re focusing on in the new year, to what new technology has them intrigued.

Throughout the year, our advisory board members will take turns sharing from their areas of expertise, which include clinical issues, funding, policy, advocacy, business operations, marketing and consumer perspectives. This issue, we start by catching up with two: Kevin Phillips of The Ability Center, and Ann Eubank of Users First Alliance.

Kevin is kicking off a new complex rehab technology-themed column called Pushing Boundaries & Dispelling Myths. Not wanting to steal the thunder from his outstanding first installment, I’ll just say that Kevin’s ultimate goal for this column series is to approach funding challenges from a perhaps different — but historical — perspective. And in future columns, he’ll be teaming with other members of the seating & mobility team to bring in their points of view.

Meanwhile, on the consumer side, this month we chatted with Ann Eubank, the executive director of Users First Alliance and the host of a rehab star-studded meeting at Medtrade. Some very big names in complex rehab checked their competitive natures at the door, to borrow an old show-biz cliché, and sat side by side in a conference room in Atlanta to hear Ann explain why supporting this newly minted non-profit organization can help end the discrimination that wheelchair users face in this country. This, too, is a new way to approach a very old, very entrenched roadblock that condemns too many consumers and their caregivers to less independent lives. Read up on what Users First wants to accomplish and why.

So while other industries spend their silly seasons on gossip and rumors, ours has found at least a couple of fresh new ways to try to move those mountains in our path. Make it your new year’s resolution to take a fresh look for yourself, and tell us what you think.

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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