Getting Injured Workers Back on Their Feet

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Losing the ability to stand is one of the hardest adjustments a severely injured worker ever makes.

Humans are designed to stand and take the pressure of our weight on our feet. If sitting is the new smoking and bad for sedentary workers, imagine how bad it is for someone confined to a wheelchair. Sitting for 12-14 hours a day causes hamstrings to tighten and muscles to contract. And limited activity can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Standing is good for bone density, circulation, digestion, bladder, and bowels among other things. It’s one of the best pressure release techniques for preventing pressure injuries (wounds).

Standing brings psychological benefits as well. With a standing wheelchair, an injured woman can literally look someone in the eye and more easily interact with friends, family, and colleagues. And, whether it’s standing at a bar or a urinal, standing makes a man feel more like a man.

In addition, many patients can perform more activities of daily living when they can stand. Confidence, independence, and functionality are some benefits.

Cost tends to be the barrier to standing wheelchairs. Understandably, payers flinch at a $65,000+ price tag for a standing chair, but these chairs can avoid other significant costs:

  • Home modifications. There’s no need to renovate the kitchen if the worker can reach the cabinets.
  • Pressure injury treatment. (A hospital visit can run $100,000 or more.)
  • Medical treatment for complications, like urinary tract infections, osteoporosis, and digestive disorders.
  • Home health care workers.

Standing chairs facilitate return to work & productivity

ATF Medical worked with a police officer who was badly shot and confined to a wheelchair. He eventually returned to work in a desk job. Since he couldn’t reach some of the files, the police department hired someone to help him. After going through a standing program (see Essentials for a Successful Standing Program) and receiving a standing wheelchair, he could handle all his duties without an assistant. The department reassigned the helper, and the officer regained pride in his ability fully contribute to fighting crime.

Workers’ comp care should restore a worker to their pre-injury condition as much as possible. Not only do standing programs help do that, but they also provide major health benefits. It’s an investment, but it’s an investment in the workers’ overall physical and mental wellbeing and can contain other claim costs.

It’s worth examining claims for workers who could qualify for a standing program. I’m happy to answer questions about the equipment and our OTs and ATPs can evaluate patients, guide them to the most appropriate standing program, and help find the right equipment for them. Contact Rick Wyche, rwyche@atfmedical.com, 202-850-0561.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Permobil

WorkersCompensation.com Article on Pressure Injuries Highlights ATF Medical’s PIPI Program

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

This informative article by WorkersCompensation.com’s Nancy Grover quotes ATF Medical’s Director of Rehab Technology Edwina Murphy, OT, ATP. The story probes the complications and costs of treating wounds/pressure injuries, explaining that communication and knowledge gaps among the different providers contribute to the development of pressure injuries.

“There is a large body of information, from credible nursing, rehabilitation and equipment manufacturers about pressure injuries, but it is not all in one place and not customized to the individual and circulated to all the providers who need it,” Edwina explains.

ATF Medical’s Pressure Injury and Intervention (PIPI) program was created to do just this. It consolidates patient-centric data and intervention protocols and communicates this information to all the caregivers who touch that injured worker.

The program also educates the injured worker and their family, using a pressure map to detect hot spots and showing them how to relieve pressure to prevent wounds. That is as simple as adjusting a seating position every 20 minutes in some cases.

PIPI’s goal is early identification of high-risk patients and ensuring that all their providers have the tools they need to help prevent painful wounds and avoid expensive treatment.

Take a moment to read Pressure Injuries Still a Problem for Injured Workers (free subscription required) and review your organization’s pressure injury program. Are there preventable wounds? Are there communication issues? Looking for a cost-effective solution? Check out our PIPI program by emailing Edwina Murphy, emurphy@atfmedical.com.

Prevent Pressure Injuries with ATF Medical’s new PIPI Solution

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

Pressure mapping helps ATF Medical identify potential pressure injuries. The hot (red) colors on the left show the pressure is unevenly distributed in the current seated position, making it likely an injured worker will develop pressure-related injuries. The cool (blue) colors on the right show the pressure being evenly distributed. (Image provided by Vista Medical.)

Pressure injuries–sometimes called bed sores or wounds–can be painful and dangerous, causing hospitalizations and even death in severe cases. Injured workers who use wheelchairs or are confined to beds are at high risk for developing them. Sitting or lying in the same position too long, medical equipment that isn’t fitted or used properly, certain clothing, and the wrong seat cushions and poor mattresses can cause them.

ATF Medical’s Director of Rehab Technology Edwina Murphy, OT, ATP has designed a program to prevent pressure injuries and to recommend interventions.

Our Pressure Injury Prevention and Intervention (PIPI) program analyzes clients’ claims to identify workers who are at risk for developing pressure injuries and recommends ways to prevent them. Pressure mapping helps occupational therapists and assisted technology professionals to zone in on the areas that need adjustment.

“Pressure maps are excellent educational tools, too,” Edwina said. “When a patient sees how a movement or adjustment can change the map colors, they’re much more likely to comply with pressure relief techniques.”

The PIPI program consolidates prevention protocols that apply to a specific injured worker and shares this information with all the providers and claims representatives involved on a claim. “There’s a great deal of clinical knowledge and research about pressure injuries, but it’s not all in one place and it’s not tailored to a specific person,” she said.

The home health nurse and adjuster may know that an injury is developing, but the treating physician, durable medical equipment technician, and in-home physical therapist may be unaware. “Communication, collaboration and accountability are key to ensuring the worker receives the right preventative care or intervention,” Edwina said.

See this news release describing the program and contact Edwina Murphy, emurphy@atfmedical.com, to learn more about PIPI and sign up for it.

Related posts: https://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20220131/NEWS08/912347583/ATF-Medical-launches-prevention,-management-program-for-wound-injuries