Seat Elevation from a Sales Perspective
When asked about the potential value of wheelchair seat elevation, Rob Travers, VP of sales & marketing for Amysystems, a power wheelchair and powered seating manufacturer, responded with a question of his own.
“How many times have we seen an able-bodied person kneel down to speak to a wheelchair user at eye level?” he asks. “Countless times in our industry because we are sensitive to the users, but it’s not necessarily the case for socializing with people from outside of our industry. Social acceptance is a primary need, and having the flexibility to make better contact socially can only be positive. On another note, giving access to reach for objects that would normally be inaccessible by the means of a power seat lift is far less costly than modifying one’s kitchen cabinets, for example.”
But despite those benefits, many funding sources — and certainly, Medicare — still view seat elevation as a positioning option that’s more tied to convenience than significant lifestyle improvement.
“I agree to disagree,” Travers says regarding that perception. “I don’t see that giving a wheelchair user more range and flexibility, while giving them more freedom and social interaction, as being a luxury. I think that this point of view is driven strictly by budgets, rather than applying what is right. Look at many European markets: Many of them offer the seat elevator as a standard option or with little justification.”
As for funding in this country, what does Travers think would have to change for seat elevation to be reimbursed?
“I sometimes see that the money is being spent in the wrong places at times,” he says. “We’ve all seen and heard stories about fraud and misuse of power devices, but I still see examples of people in power wheelchairs that should be in a manual chair. I still see able-bodied people given scooters or consumer products. I realize that I’m generalizing and it’s not being done across the board, but what if we cut out some of that waste and gave it to the people that really need it? Perhaps that’s just my perception, but take a look at YouTube and you’ll be surprised at what you see sometimes.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 Mobility Management issue of Mobility Management.