It’s January, I’m at home, and saying those two things together feels very strange.
Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) typically gets off to a fast start in a new year. It’s traditionally a time of product launches, conferences and tradeshows. It’s also a time to see friends again and catch up.
Instead, I am at home. We are at home. Conferences will be virtual for now, as will product demonstrations and socializing. Instead of crawling over power wheelchairs and hanging out in booths, I’m sitting at home and e-mailing photos of New Year’s week hail that briefly startled Southern California. (“Nice hail, Laurie!” said my industry friends, who sent supportive comments even while many of them are under feet of snow themselves.)
It’s a different January, and so will February be, and March. The International Seating Symposium has been moved to the end of October this year. That date in Pittsburgh is something to look forward to, something to hope for.
To be sure, there are other signs of hope. Every time I hear that another colleague has been vaccinated against COVID-19, my heart gets a little lighter. After I mentioned that fact, friends on Twitter sent me photos of Band-Aids on their arms, and every one felt like another step toward better times.
Also to be sure, the CRT and mobility industries are resilient. You’re not successful here if you’re not adept at creative thinking and persistence in the face of sometimes overwhelming challenges. Manufacturers, for example, keep innovating: In the weeks leading up to the holidays, we saw a new ultralightweight wheelchair from Sunrise Medical, a new power standing option for the AVIVA FX from Invacare Corp. and Motion Concepts, a new Traverse SUV from BraunAbility, and the new ParkSmart sensor system from Vantage Mobility International.
I’m hearing of plenty of other product launches upcoming in Q1, more than enough to affirm that CRT continues to innovate and improve.
On the policy front, industry organizations such as NCART, NRRTS, the Clinician Task Force, and U.S. Rehab are working on retaining the positive changes that have come from the pandemic, such as telehealth and remote service assessments and fittings. Imagine how much easier and more efficient clinic visits could be if consumers in rural areas or those with vulnerable immune systems or commuting difficulties could take part remotely, at least some of the time.
No, this January isn’t like other Januaries. I miss my family. I miss my friends, and I miss being face to face with my industry. But every day is a day closer to when we can be together again. So, happy new year: I wish you and your families health, happiness, and success in 2021.