Editor’s Note

Striking Just the Right Balance

Even in balmy Southern California, my home base, winter is a season for introspection. During the holidays, I make resolutions; with the new year comes the chance to see how many I can keep. Most of my resolutions are about balance: between work and family, activity and rest, the number of times I opt for cookies vs. carrot sticks.

As the new year began, seating & mobility providers and clinicians undoubtedly were looking to strike business balances. Funding sources keep paying less while expecting their purchases to last longer and do more. As a result, ATPs are looking to do more with fewer hours in their day, with more clients to see, perhaps with reduced support staffs and resources. Yet, they don’t want to compromise the quality of the service they provide.

It’s a never-ending challenge.

In this issue, finding balance is also a recurring theme.

It’s the topic of the Another Opinion column by Invacare Corp.’s Brian Ellacott. Ellacott summarizes the challenges facing providers today — and there are several big ones — but also explains why he believes the value of this industry ultimately will be proven. And he talks about what providers and clinicians can do today to make that happen.

Our cover story talks about finding balance of a different sort — between wheelchair seat cushions and backs, which are often treated as separate components during the assessment, fitting and product choice processes, but ultimately work together to form a unified seating system. Could there be benefits to considering seats and backs together? In considering, in fact, seating and mobility components as part of a greater whole? Clinicians weigh in starting on page 24.

And continuing the theme of finding a balance, we have big news of our own.

In March, Mobility Management will launch TheMobilityProject.com, a new Web site specifically aimed at consumers who use seating, mobility and accessibility products, as well as their families and caregivers.

For 10 years, MM has served seating, mobility and accessibility professionals. But even as we’ve discussed funding and policy, accreditation and audits, clinical best practices and credentials, consumers have never been far from our minds.

Just like you, we hear from them — from parents looking for a toddler-sized wheelchair, from adult children worried about Mom or Dad falling in the bathroom, from young adults in wheelchairs who ask about driving options. We’ve helped where we could; we’ve connected letter-writers with assistive technology manufacturers, or callers with expert clinicians. But it’s a slow process, making one connection at a time. And with all the experience and insight that you and your peers have, it’s a waste to share it with only one consumer at a time.

We’ve been thinking about a resource like TheMobilityProject.com for awhile, but we’re confident its time is now. Just like MM, TheMobilityProject.com will focus on mobility-related issues. We’ll talk about new technology. We’ll have “ask the expert” stories, so consumers can get an opinion from someone in the know (and so the expert can share wisdom with a lot of consumers and families at once). We’ll talk about clinical conditions that impact mobility, and how funding and medical necessity impact which products get developed, why products are designed the way they are… and why it takes time to bring a new product to market and get it delivered to the end user.

We’ll help consumers connect with you, with each other, with others who have been there and can offer words of advice about how to speak effectively with physicians or how to work with equipment providers. We’ll talk about the stuff of daily life, too — about accessible travel, issues that impact veterans, consumer rights and advocacy in their own neighborhoods, sports & recreation, service animals…whatever is important to this community.

We chose TheMobilityProject.com name because we want it to always be a vibrant, active work in progress, something that consumers and seating, mobility and accessibility professionals can build together. We’ll have more details next month, so stay tuned.

This article originally appeared in the February 2012 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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