Let’s Get Together

The tip of a cigarette that’s quietly burning (not being puffed on) is about 250° Celsius (roughly 480° Fahrenheit), though that temperature reduces as ash builds up at the tip.

Burning cigarette tip

This was just one of the many fascinating things I learned by attending the Oct. 1 RESNA Standards Committee conference call on Wheelchair and Related Seating (WRS), chaired by Kara Kopplin, Director of Regulatory Science for Permobil Seating & Positioning.

As fascinating as tip temperature is — that factoid was part of the discussion on the flammability of seating materials and developing ways to investigate how heat and those materials interact — probably the most surprising discovery happened before the meeting began.

Because all it took to join the meeting was… asking to join the meeting.

Here’s a disclaimer: Kara Kopplin sits on our editorial advisory board, and we’ve worked together for years. Still, all I did was ask Kara if I could listen in. “Anyone is welcome to join the committee,” the RESNA Web site says about the WRS, “and we are especially looking for consumers, advocates, caregivers, policy experts, payors, and educators.” (Go to https://tinyurl.com/resnawrs for details.)

In the two-hour meeting, committee members talked about microclimate, shear, envelopment and cushion aging. A lot of discussion focused on creating research methods that were consistent, so outcomes would be viable. But this isn’t research for research’s sake. For example, aging — from general use and also from sunlight, incontinence, heat, transfers — was discussed in relation to how long a cushion’s reasonable useful lifetime should be (among those wondering: payors such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services).

And how should “time to get a new cushion” be defined? Is it when the cushion is literally crumbling, or should it be when the cushion is no longer capable of performing the functions, such as skin protection and positioning, that it’s supposed to?

I left the meeting feeling amazed and grateful. This type of toil isn’t always visible, and it requires grant money, time, creativity and dedication; the cigarette flammability testing, for instance, included designing and building a cost-effective pendulum that could be easily reproduced and could hold the cigarette in contact with sitting surfaces so heat testing could progress.

Despite the relative anonymity of the work, joining the meeting was so easy: no secret handshake, passwords or blindfolds! So many workgroups are eager to welcome additional members; it should be easy to find a group that’s pursuing a passion you share.

As for me — I’ll hang out with the WRS as long as they let me. I love hearing about indenters for cushion testing and how their designs have evolved to much more accurately represent human rear ends and thighs. I love hearing about body heat and microclimate. And Iove that these committee meetings give me a front-row seat to witness CRT history in the making.

This article originally appeared in the Oct/Nov 2019 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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