Autonomy for Workers with Spinal Cord Injuries

Thursday, August 18th, 2022

Photo courtesy of Accessibility Services, Inc.

A spinal cord injury left an injured worker paralyzed in both legs and one arm. While recovering in a rehabilitation center, he learned to use an environmental control unit—aptly named autonoME (pronounced autonomy).

With this sophisticated system he could raise and lower his bed, turn lights on and off, shift positions to prevent pressure injuries, watch TV and even change the channels. autonoME frees up aides and other caregivers, but more importantly, it gives the patient more control over his life.

So impressed with the patient’s ability to use the system, the treating physician prescribed this brand of ECU when the worker transferred to a long-term care residential facility. ATF Medical filled the prescription through . (lAccessibility Services, Inc. (ASI), a Florida-based company that produces customized ECUs and assistive speech technologies for hospital and residential use.

autonoME units are found in many VA hospitals and in the homes of veterans who have had spinal cord injuries. Also used by ALS patients, the units can be adapted to accommodate disease progression.

These units have a vast array of accessories and are highly customizable. Our patient’s unit was programmed so he can open and close doors, make phone or Zoom calls, watch Netflix, read books on Kindle, play games, and go on You Tube. And ASI continues to add apps.

autonoME Residential enables patients to control their thermostats and fans and open, close, and lock doors. If using wheelchairs, injured workers can let themselves in and out of the house and lock the door behind them.

The software easily integrates with mobile phones, automatic doors openers and RING-type consumer products so injured workers at home alone can see the person at the door before opening it. The system has chimes to alert caregivers in the home, and it can send SMS text messages to family members who aren’t at home when the patient needs them.

The software runs on a light-weight Microsoft Surface Pro tablet. Our patient operates his through voice activation. Touch (the tablet weighs only two and one-half pounds), head tracking, eye movement, and sip-and-puff technologies are also available.

Many workers who suffer traumatic accidents lose the ability to do the little things most people take for granted. Being totally dependent on caregivers for something as small as turning off a light is debilitating. Regaining function gives people more control over their activities, vastly improving the quality of their lives.

If you have an injured employee who could benefit from a system like this, please contact Rick Wyche, rwyche@atfmedical.com.

Preventing Pressure Injuries

Monday, August 1st, 2022

Pressure injuries are painful and difficult & expensive to treat…and most are avoidable.

An injured worker with a catastrophic injury has enough on their plate. The last thing they need is a painful pressure injury, also known as a wound, pressure ulcer or bedsore. Especially one that didn’t have to develop. And most pressure injuries are avoidable. ATF Medical’s Edwina Murphy discusses this in this WorkCompWire Leaders Speak article.

ATF Medical offers a comprehensive, cost-effective Pressure Injury Prevention & Intervention (PIPI) program. For more information on the PIPI, please email referrals@atfmedical.com.

Related Link:

Prevent Pressure Injuries with ATF Medical’s new PIPI Solution – ATFMedical

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