Food for Thought
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Nov 01, 2016
You know what I’ve decided? Medications cost far too much to formulate,
test, fine-tune, test again, take through trials, manufacture,
distribute, prescribe, regulate and deliver. Even over-the-counter meds
are too expensive.
So I’ve cooked up a replacement that
costs far less. Look left: That’s a photo of
my miracle cure. It provides hydration,
can help clear sinuses and could help to
reduce inflammation. And it’s so much
cheaper than those medications that treat
bacterial infections. You’re welcome.
Does that sound familiar? How about if I
substitute wheelchair for medications? Now does it sound familiar?
Among my daily tasks is reading “newswire” stories, which in the Internet
age includes information that arrives via e-mail and social media. And wow,
am I tired of mainstream news stories and press releases that begin, “Fed
up with the exorbitant prices of wheelchairs, these inventors set out to build
something better.” The story then triumphantly explains that the materials to
build this new wheelchair cost only a few hundred dollars, largely because
they tend to include lawn chair-style seats, a skateboard and some zip ties.
I’m not talking about wheelchairs designed specifically for developing
nations, or about the cool early-intervention powered ride-ons that Dr. Cole
Galloway and colleagues build for infants and toddlers. Those systems are
designed with purpose by people familiar with seating, mobility and the
challenging environments in which they must function.
No, I’m frustrated by amateurs who seemingly glance at complex rehab
technology and decide — based on price tags alone — that they can make
something better. “Granny loves her new wheelchair that we built in our
garage,” they say. “And we just used our kid’s old scooter and some leftovers
from the tool shed.”
These stories are picked up by unwitting media and feed the under-educated
belief that any complex rehab technology costing more than a few
hundred bucks is unreasonably priced. That includes chairs custom made to
accommodate an asymmetrical or fixed posture. Or a seating system handbuilt
for a user with half a pelvis and precious little body surface left to bear
weight. Or the head array to enable a client with a high cervical injury to
independently weight shift every hour to avoid pressure injuries.
Knowledgeable innovation is great. But claiming that untested, DIY wheelchairs
are effective isn’t just annoying. It’s dangerous because all the wrong
people are eager to believe it. Yeah, we’ll take the word of the guy rolling
down the hill in his lawn chair with no brakes!
Hot chicken soup really can help a stuffy nose. But it doesn’t lower blood
pressure, clear up psoriasis or treat depression. Do people cook a pot of
chicken soup, feed it to Granny, then proclaim it a cheaper and better cure
for her osteoporosis?
Then where is the respect for complex rehab technology?
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Mobility Management.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.