Survey to Study Future of Assistive Technology Professionals

It’s a common question in the complex rehab technology (CRT) industry: Where will the next generation of ATPs come from? And what will the industry be like when they start practicing?

The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST), in partnership with the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology (NCART), has launched an industry survey to find out.

In an announcement to the industry — and during this year’s International Seating Symposium in Vancouver, B.C. — the University of Pittsburgh RST said, “The field of rehabilitation science and technology has grown in training, specialties and certifications over the last 30 years. The requirement for higher education has changed for rehabilitation degrees, such as occupational therapy and physical therapy. Assistive technology, and specifically Complex Rehabilitation Technology, is another partnering profession in rehab science that ensures assistive technology products are designed to meet the specific and unique needs of individuals with disabilities.”

Don Clayback, NCART’s executive director and a study co-investigator, said the survey “will be able to anticipate future personnel needs and show demographic trends of interest for the profession and stakeholders.”

An Aging-in-Place Shift

Mark Schmeler, Ph.D., OTR/L, ATP, is a University of Pittsburgh associate professor and co-investigator of the study.

“There is a big shift towards aging in place and keeping people out of hospitals or long-term care facilities,” Schmeler said. “CRT and providers play a critical role in this shift alongside other healthcare professions. But we need to assess the current and future capacities of CRT professionals.”

The survey is open to ATP-certified suppliers and manufacturer representatives until April 15. Survey instructions ask for respondents who either have ATP certification presently, or are planning to become ATP certified in the next two years. Clinicians and professionals who work in hospitals, not-for-profit organizations or other non-industry organizations are not eligible.

The survey can be accessed by going to https://tinyurl.com/pittncartsurvey. The survey should take about five minutes to complete. While survey results will be shared within the industry, such as at conferences or in scientific formats, individual responses will remain anonymous.

Upon completing the survey, respondents can enter a random drawing to win one of 10 passes to access the RSTCE library of CEU Webinars. The passes are valid for one year.

The Role of Tomorrow’s ATP

The survey will seek to determine what the CRT industry is like now. But it will also investigate what the industry’s future needs could be.

“As a training institution,” Schmeler said, “Pitt and RST need more reliable information about CRT providers so that we can explain to potential students — and their parents, for that matter — what the profession does, what type of job you can get, and what the demand is in the same way we do for other health professions.”

About the Author

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

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