Complex Rehab Technology

It’s hard not to geek out this time of the year if you’re a complex rehab technology (CRT) fan. Product launches tend to come fast and furious in the first few months, but 2015 has felt like warp speed, even for CRT.

Having spent the better part of a week at February’s International Seating Symposium (ISS) in Nashville, Tenn., I think I’ve figured out what exhibitors have been up to lately. Many of the new seating and wheeled mobility systems on display felt like quantum leaps forward, not just in the technology, but in their sky’s-the-limit mindset. Since last year, manufacturers have been making big promises, and they delivered in Nashville.

Turn to page 8 for our expanded ISS coverage in MMBeat.

Another reason to geek out at ISS was the coming together of different segments of healthcare in a way that focused on the goals of CRT clients. If new product launches seemed to explode with outside-the-box thinking, then our paths and those of other healthcare industries seem to be converging in the best possible ways. Two examples:

  • In his ISS keynote, Dr. Michael Boninger discussed brain computer interfaces and how they work (coverage in MMBeat)…though he also believes the wheelchair will remain the most “enabling” device for some time.
  • I met again with ROHO’s Kara Kopplin and Amit Gefen, Ph.D., of Tel Aviv University. Dr. Gefen is not, as I discovered upon meeting him last year, a seating or wheeled mobility clinician. His background is engineering (mechanical and biomedical), but in his studies, he started examining how loads develop in human tissues, especially internally where we can’t easily see. He became interested in how pressure affects tissues, how it injures them, and how pressure ulcers form — at what exact point in time a load actually begins to damage and kill tissue.

Our 2014 meeting led to a three-part research series that felt to me, the English major, quite comprehensive. But over a plate of Eggs Benedict in Nashville, Dr. Gefen assured me that last year’s article series was just the beginning — setting the foundation, it turns out, for deeper discussions of what we can learn now that we understand, in a quantifiable way, when and how and why and where tissues break down.

So, I’ll be firing up my recorder and my keyboard, and we’ll be geeking out a lot in the coming months. Look for Dr. Gefen’s new series starting in our summer issues — and because a refresher course might be a good idea, we’ll first be offering a pdf download of the 2014 articles inspired by Dr. Gefen, all packaged into a concise reader- and printer-friendly format, with new editorial content thrown in as well. Stay tuned for news about that next month.

And we’ll also fire up our new Technology Showcase series, which takes an in-depth look at a product or technology that really takes our industry to a new place. This month’s interview is with Permobil’s David Algood; the manufacturer debuted two power wheelchair bases at ISS, and some very cool powered seating & positioning to go with them. Read all about it on page 27, and then check back in subsequent months for more Showcases…because we have a lot of great innovations to cover.

To be honest, getting this excited about technology and science is a rather new feeling for me, someone who spent an academic career scraping by in math and science. But I like where we’re going. Come along for the ride.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

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

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