Quantum Rehab Introduces its First Rear-Wheel Drive in more than 10 years!

Friday, September 29th, 2023

Rehab magazine ran an article on Quantum Rehab’s new R-TRAK power chair. It’s the company’s first rear-wheel drive in more than a decade.

In the ‘90s only rear-wheel drives and front-wheel drives were available for powerchairs, according to our Senior Rehab Specialist Kevin Wallace, ATP, CRTS. For a while, fewer rear-wheel drive powerchairs were available and with their 27.5” turning radiuses, rear-wheel drives were considered to operate best for outdoor use.

“With a turning radius of roughly 20.5” chairs with mid-wheel drives can maneuver better in the tighter spaces of a home or office,” Kevin said.

It seems the pendulum is starting to swing again, and more people are requesting rear-wheel driving systems as technologies become more enhanced. This new R-TRAK has a 24.2” base so it can work inside as well as outside.

“It’s important to remember that all three types of bases drive differently,” Kevin said.  “An injured worker could face challenges when switching from one to another.”

When considering sophisticated powerchairs ATF Medical’s specialists conduct thorough evaluations of the workers’ comp patient’s condition, goals, home and/or workplace before recommending a specific powerchair.  If you have questions or need assistance with powerchair or other complex rehab technology, connect with kevin.wallace

Here’s the article:

 

New Employee Spotlight: Kayla Gast

Monday, September 25th, 2023

Kayla Gast joined the ATF Medical team as Rehab Coordinator II in Rehab Technology in May. She is in Shawano, Wisconsin and has lived in that area her whole life.  She enjoys having her whole family nearby.

After earning her Associate of Science degree in nursing, she became a Care Manager Support Assistant for Humana and later moved to Healthy Transitional Living, where she worked with foster children.

She went on into the fast-paced world of a 911 operator in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area.  The job demanded effective communication skills, including active listening, empathy and attention to detail. She had to multi-task and stay calm under pressure. Perhaps the most important thing she learned from the position, though, was how to manage stress.

Kayla entered the workers’ comp industry as a Work Comp Specialist when she joined CorLife, a division of NuMotion, in 2022. She must have done very well because she received the CorLife Associate of the Year Award that year and was promoted to Senior Work Comp Claims Specialist. In that role, Kayla communicated consistently and in detail with carriers, injured workers, vendors and others. She also reviewed new claims and created a plan of action to achieve favorable outcomes. And she honed her stress management skills.

What does she like about workers’ compensation?

Kayla says the difficulty of it all appeals to her—the challenge of completing a solution for an injured worker.

“You have to be careful about what you say, and how you say it,” she noted. “And you need a lot of empathy for the injured worker.  They didn’t go to work expecting to get hurt. We can help them adapt to all changes they are experiencing and make their new life a little easier.”

Kayla’s dog, Maverick

How is working at ATF Medical?

 She likes the openness of ATF Medical and getting to know everyone. “The culture here is very welcoming and not only focuses on you as an employee but also as a person,” Kayla said.

Working remotely for the first time is an adjustment, but being home with her cat and dog is a nice change of pace and she doesn’t miss driving 45 minutes each way to work.

How does she spend her leisure time?

When not on the job, Kayla hangs out with her family and friends, enjoys boating and swimming at the lake.  She also likes to travel and wants to do more of it.

Please welcome Kayla to the team or say hello if you’re already connected. Welcome Kayla to the team. Maybe you can share some tips on how you manage the remote work lifestyle and get some stress management techniques from her.  Email her mgast@atfmedical.com.

 

Case Study: The Deputy and His Standing Chair

Friday, September 8th, 2023

David Caimotto, a 40-year-old Sherriff’s Deputy, was badly injured in motorcycle accident, which caused him to become a T-2 paraplegic. Despite his serious injuries, he returned to work at the Sheriff’s Department in a desk job, which involved working on files and in-person discussions with clients and attorneys.

The deputy used a K0005 Ultra lightweight manual wheelchair, and although he also received a standing frame, the office layout prevented its consistent use. As a result, co-workers had to pull files for him, and at one point the Sherriff’s office hired an assistant for him.

This arrangement continued for 16 years. Eventually propelling a manual chair took its toll, especially on his shoulders. ATF Medical was brought in to evaluate his condition and offer solutions.

We recommended a power chair due to the deputy’s on-going shoulder issues. We also added standing feature to enable him to reach files and interact with co-workers, clients, attorneys and the public at large at eye level.

The deputy could now perform tasks that were previously impossible. As his duties expanded, the Sherriff’s Department was able to re-assign his assistant.

Physical benefits of the standing function include a decrease in repetitive shoulder injuries and the functional benefit of standing, which increases bone density and improves bowel and bladder function.

Psychologically, being able to look people in the eye and engage in social activities brings a huge boost to a person’s mental health. “I did get the chance to take the chair to the Christmas Brian Setzer Orchestra show and stood for the first time at a concert in over 16 years,” Deputy Caimotto said. “It was amazing.”

Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries During SCI Awareness Month

Tuesday, September 5th, 2023

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the US Senate’s resolution designating September as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. In the spirit of increasing awareness, here are some facts from the United Spinal Association

About Spinal Cord Injuries

After a spinal cord injury (SCI), the nerves above the level of the injury continue working as they always did.  Below the level of injury, though, messages from the brain to the body may become fully or partially blocked.

The higher the level of the SCI, the greater the impairment.  People with thoracic injuries and lower may retain full use of their arms and hands. However, injuries to the upper cervical region can result in respiratory issues and the loss of limb, bowel, bladder, and sexual function. Not surprisingly, approximately 37% of people who have incurred an SCI report depression.

Facts and Figures

  • Approximately 17,700 Americans acquire a spinal cord injury (SCI) each year.
  • 78% are men
  • The average age is 43

Common Causes:

  • Vehicle accidents – nearly 40%
  • Falls – 31.8%
  • Violence – 13.2%
  • Sports – 8%
  • Medical/Surgery – 4.3%

Workers’ Comp Stat

The frequency of large (over $1 million) workers’ comp claims involving SCIs (and traumatic brain injuries and burns) has grown by nearly 7% per year since 2012, according to NCCI.

Types of Wheelchairs Used 

Spinalcord.com reports that the types of wheelchairs used most often by people who have an SCI are:

  • 39% – manual wheelchairs
  • 27% – power wheelchairs
  • 2% – other types (power-assist wheelchairs, scooters and Hover rounds)

For more information on SCIs, check out these links:

https://www.christopherreeve.org/https://asia-spinalinjury.org/

https://www.spinalinjury101.org/details/resources

https://www.sci-info-pages.com/spinal-cord-injury-organizations/

 

What are OTAs and COTAs?

Wednesday, August 30th, 2023

So many initials … so many credentials. What do they all mean?

At least OTA and COTA are related in that OTA stands for Occupational Therapy Assistant and COTA for a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.

As the title suggests, a COTA/OTA assists an occupational therapist by helping them carry out treatment plans for injured workers and other patients. This healthcare professional typically has a hands-on role, working with injured workers in developing fine motor skills, work reconditioning, and implementing ergonomic modifications. They also help people work through the physical and mental challenges that come with a condition or disorder.

In the US, COTA/OTA candidates must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited occupational therapy assistant school. The curriculum includes behavioral health, anatomy, pathophysiology, movement, and function. COTA/OTAs work with individuals of any age.

They also need to obtain a license in their jurisdiction before they can call themselves OTAs. In most states, OTAs also need to be licensed. COTAs take the extra step of becoming certified in the field. They must successfully complete a national certification exam after registering with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

If you’re curious about a credential or accreditation, let us know. We’ll investigate it. Email info@atfmedical.com

New Employee Spotlight: Cassie Kratz

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

Cassie Kratz recently joined ATF Medical, bringing eight years of claims management and direct patient care to her Rehab Coordinator II/Rehab Technology position at ATF Medical.

Most recently as a Senior Claims Specialist for CorLife, the workers’ comp division of NuMotion, she managed day-to-day claims operations and supported a team of Claims Specialists. Cassie is accustomed to coordinating durable medical equipment and complex rehab technology along with vehicle modifications for injured workers.

How did her career progress?

While attending the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point, Cassie worked as a Direct Support Professional Caregiver at Innovative Services. She served a wide range of people with severe disabilities, including non-verbal quadriplegics, and assisted clients with activities of daily living. This included helping them use Hoyer Lifts and other DME.

“That job showed me the importance of locating the correct equipment and supplies based on an individual’s physical capabilities,” Cassie said.

After graduating with a degree in Health Science, she became an Adult Instructor with the CP Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She assessed client performance in specific skill areas and followed physical and occupational therapists’ plans to promote range of motion and independence. And she planned the curriculum for patient educational programs and taught some of them.

Intrigued with complex rehab technology, Cassie moved to CorLife in 2020, where she was introduced to workers’ comp. And she likes it.

“There’s a slight difference in someone who had a disability their whole life, and someone who wants to regain the independence they had prior to the injury,” she said. “Also, the workers’ comp CRT is more sophisticated. It’s never stagnant, there are always newer models and features that can help someone become independent. I’m always learning.”

Speaking of learning, Cassie appreciates how helpful ATF Medical’s technicians are. “They have super busy schedules and caseloads, but they still make time to explain something to me or get on a call with a client to talk through options. I am not alone when trying to solve a problem.”

Cassie, who lives just outside of Green Bay in the village of Luxemburg, has two sassy corgis that keep her busy. She also likes to bake and go boating. And she used to play in a volleyball league, but recently had to slow down because Cassie and her fiancé are expecting a baby! Hopefully, the corgis will approve of the new addition to the family.

Congratulate Cassie on the new position and the baby! Her email is ckratz@atfmedical.com.

 

 

ATF Medical’s Sept. 13 on the Benefits of Standing for Wheelchair Users

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

Photo Credit: Permobil

Unless you sit in a wheelchair 14 hours a day or care for someone who does, you probably don’t realize the impacts that prolonged sitting has on the body. Health risks for workers’ compensation patients who use wheelchairs run the gamut from serious renal, circulatory and digestive issues to painful pressure injuries.

The multiple clinical and psychological benefits of adding standing features to wheelchairs will be covered during ATF Medical’s “Benefits of Standing for Wheelchair Users” webinar. For workers’ comp case managers, adjusters, and other claims representatives, the free, hour-long session starts at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT on Wednesday, September 13.

The session makes a one-hour CEU available for certified case managers (CCM). To register for the free webinar, please visit https://tinyurl.com/CEUStandingChairs.

 

 

Creating Adaptive Housing Solutions for Bariatric Patients

Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

Obesity rates are climbing. Over 41% of US adults are considered obese, and that rate is predicted to be over 50% by 2030. That’s a mere seven years from now. And claims costs for bariatric workers are three times higher than those for healthy weight injured workers with comparable injuries according to NCCI. 

What does this mean for us?

We need to equip more bariatric injured workers for independence and prepare payers for higher claims costs. 

In this WorkCompWire article, Melissa Smith, OTR/L, ECHM, CAPS, CHAMP, our Clinical Specialist for Adaptive Housing Solutions, discusses the specialized home modification requirements for this population.  Some changes seem second nature – widening doors, for example. But a myriad less obvious considerations, like the larger turning radius of a bariatric power chair, affect the home’s modifications.

Because medical costs for these cases are already high, providing the most appropriate equipment and adaptive housing program the first time is vital.  You don’t want to have to switch out equipment or repair a failed ceiling after the lift is installed.

Our adaptive housing team collaborates with our medical equipment and mobility specialists to select the most effective and cost-effective equipment and modifications. It’s ATF Medical’s holistic, highly collaborative approach that sets us apart.

Read Melissa’s thoughtful piece here, and if you missed it, check out Kevin Wallace’s article on the medical equipment needs of bariatric claims.

 

Rehab Technology Specialist Kevin Wallace Discusses Bariatric Equipment

 

 

ATF Medical’s “Intro to CRT” Webinar Coming on Aug. 16

Monday, July 31st, 2023

Complex rehab technology is, well, complex. With technology advancing at a startling rate, new mobility equipment and features come to market practically every day. How do you determine which one is the best fit for a specific injured worker and justify its cost?

To help case managers better understand CRT, ATF Medical will present a one-hour webinar, “Intro to Complex Rehab Technology (CRT),” starting at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT on August 16. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/y6r4vzmr

Rick Wyche, ATP, C.E.A.C., ATF Medical’s Executive Director of Payer Partnerships will cover the key categories of custom mobility equipment along with their functions and uses. The clinical and cost benefits of ultra-lightweight manual wheelchairs, power assist devices, power wheelchairs, and power seating will be discussed.

A one-hour continuing education credit for Certified Case Managers is available.

To register for the free webinar, go to https://tinyurl.com/y6r4vzmr.

Rehab Technology Specialist Kevin Wallace Discusses Bariatric Equipment

Tuesday, July 25th, 2023

WorkCompWire just published an insightful article on bariatric equipment by our Kevin Wallace, ATP, CRTS, Rehab Technology Specialist.

Not only does Kevin bring over 30 years of knowledge and patient care experience to the topic, but he brings a deep level of sensitivity and compassion.

The topic is a tricky one – equipping a claim for an obese injured worker.  When Kevin started working with obese patients, bariatric beds, wheelchairs, and other equipment were so heavy and unsightly that injured workers refused to use chairs outside their homes or have people over to visit.

Fortunately, the industry gave bariatric equipment a makeover and the newer, cooler wheelchairs, beds and equipment help overcome embarrassment and isolation. The concept of inclusivity has finally reached this segment of the market.

Check out the article here.

And be sure to share/like/and comment on the LinkedIn posts on this and next week’s article on adaptive housing solutions by Melissa Smith.