• Rehab Medical

Complex Rehab Products Keep Getting Smarter


Article originally featured on HME News


Complex rehabilitation has a reputation for being a tech-savvy market, with advancements improving power chair stability, durability, performance and appearance over the decades.


To be sure, technological growth has expanded beyond device components to include “smart” systems designed to help users achieve fuller, more independent lives, said Jay Brislin, vice president of Exeter, Pa.-based Quantum Rehab.


“There have been several component innovations within the industry that have increased client daily independence, function and overall confidence with their power wheelchair,” he said. “We are determined and dedicated to creating and innovating beyond just what is coded. We are focused on improving client safety, increasing community interaction and enhancing environmental access.”


Complex rehab continues to be a frontier for technology and Larry Jackson, president of Fresno, Calif.-based Sunrise Medical says the company “will continue to push the envelope,” with an emphasis on seat elevation and standers.


Alternatives Are Flourishing


Communications technology has made great leaps in health care and the HME industry, in particular, since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Telehealth, video consultations and remote evaluations have been adopted to comply with social distancing guidelines.


“Without a doubt, 2020 made it very difficult for everyone involved in complex rehab, especially the clients,” Brislin said. “Scheduling clients for evaluations has been a challenge on both the provider and facility side, but industry professionals have been able to adapt and overcome these challenges by finding several alternative ways to ensure people get the equipment they desperately need.”


Isaac Rodriguez, senior vice president of strategic development for Franklin, Tenn.-based National Seating and Mobility, maintains that the use of remote service options is trending upward.


“In the context of equipment, individuals who rely on CRT are generally looking for safe, reliable equipment that maximizes their independence, while making their lives easier,” he said. “Regarding components of technology beyond the power chair, such as seat elevation, consumers are willing to pay for those medically necessary items. NSM’s Thought Leadership Committee is exploring out-of-pocket costs and the accessibility to available technologies.”


Even when the pandemic finally winds down, the digital platforms will continue to play a role and evolve in their purpose, Brislin said.


“As we reopen, telehealth will also be used in conjunction with in-person visits, which will hopefully help increase efficiency across the board and, ultimately, give clients positive and thorough evaluations and treatment,” he said. 


Jackson added, “I hope we can make a good argument to keep telehealth alive. For many it works great, especially in rural areas that are underserved today.”


Connectivity is Paramount


Rodriguez acknowledges that new technologies related to connectivity for proactive client service and preventative maintenance have made great strides over the past year.


“New technologies supporting connectivity are assisting clients with seating and pressure release regimens,” he said. “Other exciting technologies are enhancing safety for CRT clients offering the detection of equipment issues that need to be addressed. New preventative technologies that are more proactive and predictive than ever before will help keep our clients more independent and safer in their environments.”


Over the last few years, Quantum has launched several innovative component add-ons to its rehab power chairs, including iLevel technology (which allows power chair operation with the seat fully elevated at walking speed), standard LED fender lights, and most recently, a backup camera that offers a rear viewing angle of 170 degrees.


“Complex rehab equipment is highly advanced and not inexpensive, so clients continue to look for unique features and benefits of each piece of equipment, similar to the ‘technology at our fingertips’ we expect from our cell phones,” Brislin said.


Expertise is Essential


Providers viewed as experts in the field will tap into technologies that are a benefit and value to clients and the overall health care system, Rodriguez said.


“Leveraging technology for repair issues and preventative maintenance with proactive, robust, easy to use, and responsive service models will ensure less down time for the client,” he said. “In addition, when the provision of medically necessary equipment occurs earlier, it can prevent health complications due to mobility limitations, offering better client outcomes and decreasing hospital admissions. These technologies not only keep clients moving they can also prevent accidents and more costly healthcare situations.”


Because advanced technology components for complex power chairs continue to be implemented throughout the industry, Brislin said “it is very important for providers and clinicians to periodically find time to meet with manufacturers and vendors to be updated on all the new advancements, as well as attend virtual or non-virtual training courses provided by these vendors.” hme