In blog one, two, and three of this series we discussed the process to obtain complex rehab technology (CRT) by reviewing the importance of preparing for your evaluation, knowing the team members and their roles, as well as the funding process. In this last blog post we will explore the final stages of the process to acquire new equipment.
Returning to OT/PT for fitting and training
To achieve the best outcomes, it is important to have your entire team present when you receive your new mobility device. This includes your therapist, who will ensure the prescribed equipment fits and functions as intended. The equipment provider is another crucial aspect of this process, and their role is to assist with any necessary equipment adjustments.
The fitting of your mobility device is a great opportunity for the team to provide you with education and skill training regarding how to use the equipment effectively. For consumers using manual wheelchairs, this may include training regarding managing wheelchair supports during transfers, as well as how to fold your chair for transport. If your mobility device is a power wheelchair, your team can assess if programming changes are required to ensure you can maneuver safely in your environment. This includes tight spaces in your home as well as outdoor use such as vehicle entry.
Regardless of the type of mobility device your team should address techniques and strategies regarding pressure management as related to the prescribed device. This is critical to reduce your risk for developing a pressure injury.
It is important to verify that all the prescribed elements of the mobility device have been dispensed and that there are no back-ordered parts. If you are still waiting for a particular component, do not hesitate to ask the provider for an estimated delivery date. In case you are in a clinical environment and unable to take the equipment home on the same day as your fitting appointment, the equipment provider should plan to deliver it to you promptly.
Maintenance, repairs, and follow-up
After receiving your new equipment, it is crucial to know how to properly maintain it. If you experience any issues related to your skin, posture, comfort, or ability to function at home, it is advisable to schedule a follow-up appointment with your clinician. The clinician can address your concerns and provide additional guidance.
Should you encounter any problems with the equipment itself, such abnormal noises, cushion material malfunction, poor tracking, or rips/tears in fabric, it is recommended to contact your equipment provider for assistance. Before the provider leaves at the end of the appointment it is crucial you obtain the proper contact information for the service department, so it is easy to contact them in the event of an issue.
A power wheelchair also displays “error codes” intermittently. These features work much like the “check engine” light on your car. If you notice these codes pop up, write them down and contact your equipment provider. Permobil power wheelchairs have a “Connect” feature that allows the service provider to be able to log into your power wheelchair remotely – with your consent – to be able to help remotely. This is a great feature that can help your provider assess the issue quickly and hopefully be able to bring you the necessary parts as quickly as possible. This can be especially useful for persons living in rural areas.
To ensure that your needs are being met, your clinician or equipment provider may utilize outcome measures, such as taking pictures, surveys, indoor or outdoor mobility assessments, etc. to evaluate your satisfaction with the equipment and show that the recommended equipment is meeting your needs as predicted.
We hope this blog series has been informative and helpful to make informed decisions throughout the entire process of getting new equipment.
Do you have more questions on wheelchair seating and mobility equipment? Check out our digital version of the Wheelchair Handbook.
Catherine Sweeney, PT, ATP/SMS
Regional Clinical Education Manager
Catherine Sweeney, PT, ATP/SMS joined Permobil as Regional Clinical Education Manager in 2019. Prior to this, she spent the bulk of her career at Providence Portland Medical Center, where she co-founded the outpatient seating clinic program in 2004. As lead seating specialist, Catherine worked to expand access to wheeled mobility services through staff education in OP satellite clinics, home health, and outlying Providence hospitals.
Catherine served as the RESNA PT SIG co-chair, and is co-founder of the Northwest Assistive Technology Access Coalition with a passion for improving Oregon Medicaid recipients access to assistive technology. She has presented at both the RESNA and International Seating Symposium conferences 2021.
Stefan Morin, OT
Regional Clinical Education Manager
Stefan Morin, OT, is a registered occupational therapist who graduated from the University of Toronto in 2008 with a master’s degree in Occupational therapy. Stefan joined Permobil in July 2021 as a Regional Clinical Education Manager for the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec. From 2008 – 2012 Stefan practiced at the Lyndhurst Centre Brain and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program, located in Toronto, Canada working both as an inpatient OT as well as in the outpatient Seating Clinic providing complex seating and mobility solutions for a variety of clientele. In 2013 Stefan moved to Moncton, New Brunswick Canada and worked in the community, providing complex seating and mobility solutions, home modification solutions, as well as working with veterans with mental health and addictions issues.