A compendium of the latest

NEWS

about care for injured workers

News

Rehab Management Takes a Tour of Apple’s Upcoming Accessibility Features

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

In case you missed it, Apple is adding accessibility features to iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches. These can make big differences in the lives of injured workers.

The company is rolling out Live Captions on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac to help people with hearing impairments more easily follow audio content while streaming, using a phone or FaceTime, or video conferencing.

Apple is also introducing Door Detection to help people who are blind or have poor vision navigate new environments.

And its Apple Watch Mirroring empowers people with upper body limb challenges to use iPhone assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control from their Apple Watches. Hand gestures can answer or end a call or pause media without the person having to tap the display.  Available later this year, these features and more are described in this article from Rehab Management.

Megan Hunt Joins ATF Medical as Rehab Support Coordinator

Monday, May 23rd, 2022
Megan Hunt ATF Medical
Megan Hunt Joins ATF Medical

It’s not often a supervisor helps a valued employee move to a different company, but that happened to Megan Hunt.

Megan has collaborated with people who have disabilities for years and is passionate about helping them live their best lives. Most recently, she was the Program Assistant for Vocational Assessment Services at Roosevelt Warm Springs in Georgia. The program helps people with disabilities receive work training and start a path towards employment.

She was always interested in the medical field but didn’t make the jump until her supervisor told her about an opening at ATF Medical. Megan was fascinated by our medical stories and how we work with people after traumatic injuries and help them find solutions for mobility and independence.

“This feels like a perfect fit for you,” her supervisor said.

As a Rehab Support Coordinator, Megan assists Edwina Murphy, OT, ATP, our Director of Rehab Technology.  Since Edwina is an occupational therapist providing clinical input for our whole range of services, Megan gets involved in adaptive housing, rehab technologies, and seating & positioning, along with our new pressure injury prevention and intervention (PIPI) solution.

Megan helps Edwina with the home evaluations and reports, orders equipment, and works with manufacturers. She also communicates with claims reps, so everyone is on the same page and knows the claim’s status.

If you’ve talked to Megan, you’ll know she has a soothing, Southern accent. She lives in Griffith, Georgia and grew up in nearby Molena located in central part of the state. She works from home and loves the job.

“Everyone has been so wonderful; they don’t mind answering questions and I ask a lot of questions!” Megan said. She is thankful for Edwina, Jaymi, Karissa, Erin, Lauren, and so many others who are giving her tips and tricks.

“It’s been amazing to see what all we can do for someone who has gone through a traumatic experience that changes their life,” she said. “You’re able to help them and they’re able to grow. I love seeing people grow and change.”

Obviously, Megan’s former supervisor – and friend – was right. She’s a great fit for ATF Medical. Join us in welcoming her by emailing her at mhunt@atfmedical.com.

OT = Occupational Therapist, But What Do These Therapists Do?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

OT working with patient

Occupational therapists (OTs) and are highly skilled healthcare professionals who help people adapt to injuries and illnesses. The term “occupational” is a bit of misnomer because not all OTs focus on work activities.

You’ll find them in nearly every medical field, including orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, mental health, geriatrics, and oncology. They often serve patients who need to recover the ability to perform activities of daily living. Some seriously ill COVID-19 patients who had lengthy hospital stays learned to bathe and dress themselves again with the help of OTs.

Like physical therapists, they help people increase strength and flexibility, usually in the upper extremities. OTs can also assess a patient’s social and communication skills and recommend ways to improve them.

Educational requirements are stringent. Candidates need to graduate at a master’s or doctoral level from an occupational therapy program and be accredited by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Those that also pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) have OTR instead of OT after their names. Then after all that, OTs must be licensed by their local states. Most states require continuing education for OTs to maintain their licenses.

In workers’ compensation, OTs wear a lot of hats. You’ll find them assigned to claims with upper body injuries, including cumulative musculoskeletal injuries of the hands and arms. They also perform job analyses and recommend ergonomic changes, accessibility and assistive technologies, and work accommodations to facilitate return to work.

Naturally, at ATF Medical OTs usually work on complex claims, including spinal cord injuries, falls, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, and crush injuries. OTs evaluate the injured worker’s condition, their home and family situation, and recommend ways to restore as much independence and functionality along with the highest quality of life as possible.

For example, our Director of Rehab Technology Edwina Murphy, OT, ATP developed a way to prevent wounds. ATF Medical’s Pressure Injury Prevention Program identifies areas where pressure injuries are developing or are likely to develop and recommends ways to avoid painful wounds.

OTs at ATF Medical work on adaptive housing solutions, assessing the home, evaluating the injured individual. They stay up to date on the plethora of assistive technologies, adaptive equipment, emerging accessibility tools, and home renovation designs. Their expertise makes them valuable members of the team that decides on the best most efficient and cost-effective adaptive housing solutions.

This is part of a series defining some of the acronyms and terms in our industry.  If there is one you want us to explain, please email rwyche@atfmedical.com.

What is an ATP Anyway?

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Acronyms mean different things in different industries. Take ATM. It is an automated teller machine in banking and asynchronous transfer mode in telecommunications. It also stands for “at the moment” in texts.

Workers’ comp is rife with acronyms and credentials. There’s CPCU, ARM, MSCC, and CMSP.  Within the rehab technology field, you’ll find ATP, OT, PT, CAPS, CHAMP, CEAC, and more. All the initials behind the names of rehab pros can be confusing, so we decided to do some posts explaining some of the acronyms and certifications in our field.

First up, ATP. Aviation has an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) certification, but in our world, ATP stands for Assistive Technology Professional.

The ATP certificate is earned through RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of America. RESNA defines ATP as a certification that “recognizes demonstrated competence in analyzing the needs of consumers with disabilities, assisting in the selection of appropriate assistive technology for the consumers’ needs, and providing training in the use of the selected devices.”

Only professionals with a specific ratio of academic to work experience can sit for the ATP exam. The test covers a wide knowledge base since ATPs work with so many different assistive technologies. You’ll find them in mobility, seating, and positioning and home mods. ATPs also work with sensory aides, computer accessibility, and devices for the hearing or visually impaired.

In addition to knowing the technical aspects, ATPs need to understand payer sources. There are wildly different standards and approval processes in workers’ comp, Medicare/Medicaid, and private insurance.

Also, in comp, many patients have just experienced sudden, catastrophic changes to their lives. Their providers need soft skills like active listening, good communication, and empathy.

At ATF Medical, most ATPs engage in mobility, seating and positioning, and adaptive housing solutions. Our ATPs collaborate with other professionals to create solutions that balance home modifications and medical equipment. Sometimes the right medical equipment can eliminate the need for a kitchen remodel. The goal is to equip the injured worker for maximum independence, functionality, and quality of life.

ATPs assess a person’s physical, functional, and clinical condition. They also consider family dynamics, lifestyle, pre-injury activities, and return-to-work options. Then they analyze hundreds of rehab technologies and recommend the most appropriate products and features.

ATPs also fit complex rehab equipment to the injured individual and educate them and their families on its use and maintenance. Our ATPs return a few weeks later to answer questions, adjust equipment, and make sure the worker is able to use its features.

In fact, our ATPs stay in touch with the injured worker throughout the life of the claim, maintaining and repairing equipment, and monitoring the worker’s progress. In many ways, they are the claims rep’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Hopefully, this article tells you what an ATP is and what they do. We will cover other industry credentials in upcoming posts. Please let us know if there is a particular one you’d like us to explore. Email us at RWyche@ATFMedical.com.

 

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

Welcoming ATF Medical’s Newest Rehab Coordinator, Elisa Piech

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Joining ATF Medical felt like “coming full circle” to Elisa Piech. She started her workers’ comp career 13 years ago with Total Medical Solutions (TMS), where she worked with Erin Zablocki, now our Executive Director of Rehab Technology.  TMS was acquired by MSC, which was later acquired by One Call Care Management, and Elisa moved along with the changes and challenges.

Now, she says, “It’s great to work with Erin again and be part of ATF Medical. It feels like family. The people have the same caring mentality as we did at TMS.”

Yes, workers’ compensation is a small world with strong connections.

Elisa is a Rehab Coordinator II who mainly works on the patient/injured worker side of the spectrum. Her first step is to contact the injured workers and verify information, like height, weight, physical location.

“We want to get as much background upfront so we can provide the most appropriate devices,” she said.

Just as important, reaching out like this lets injured workers know someone cares and that they have someone to contact with their questions. “We’re not just some call center staffed by automatons,” Elisa stressed. “We talk to patients and take time with them and help them understand what’s happening with their medical supplies and equipment.”

She also arranges for an Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) or Occupational Therapist (OT) to conduct a thorough evaluation when the case is complex. “So many patients need highly specialized equipment,” she said. “If one spec on a powerchair is off, it can throw off everything. ATPs and OTs make sure that the tilt or recline feature–whatever it is–is tailored for that particular person with that specific injury.”

After gathering information from ATPs, OTs and their evaluations, Elisa prepares a quote with a narrative that explains why certain equipment has been recommended. Communicating regularly with adjusters, nurse case managers, and equipment manufacturers, she obtains approval from TPAs and carriers and ensures the ordering, delivery, and fitting of equipment goes smoothly.

The key to success in this position, Elisa says, is to let the injured worker know that you care. When asked what she enjoyed most about her job, Elisa was quick to answer, “Helping people. And here I can.”

Please welcome Elisa to ATF Medical by emailing her at epiech@atfmedical.com.


ATF Medical Is More Passion Than Career for Rick Wyche

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

In case you’re wondering if ATF Medical supports upward mobility among its employees, the answer is YES! Rick Wyche has been promoted to Executive Director of Sales, Marketing & Business Development.

Rick joined the company as an intern while still in college, checking insurance benefits and performing basic customer service. Over the years he’s held a number of roles, from cold-calling prospects to evaluating seriously injured workers for sophisticated medical equipment.

Along the way, he received Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) and Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC) credentials. Now part of the company’s senior leadership team, Rick is ATF Medical’s Executive Director of Sales, Marketing & Business Development.

“ATF Medical gave me the opportunity to grow within the same organization,” Rick said, whose degree from George Mason University is in Conflict Resolution.

He said that Sid (Glover) is a great mentor who really took the time to show him what he needed to know.

“This work is never boring and it’s always challenging,” Rick said. “Each injured worker is unique and has specialized equipment and adaptive housing needs. Manufacturers come out with new features every year. There is always something to learn and there is always room to grow.”

Most rewarding to Rick is the ability to dramatically improve an injured person’s life. “We help some people who cannot get outside or even out of their beds. It’s incredible to watch them return to their lives, partly through our equipment and home modifications. Seeing them move around safely and independently and enjoy life more means everything.”

 

Haley Mundt Finds Her Place at ATF Medical

Monday, January 17th, 2022

Haley Mundt recently joined ATF Medical as a Rehab Coordinator, collaborating with clients, manufacturers, and ATF Medical’s Assistive Technology Professionals (ATPs) and Occupational Therapists (OTs) to help injured workers receive the medical equipment they need. Haley, who graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in biology, has worked in the durable medical equipment industry for over four years.

In her previous job as a manager for an Ohio distributor of durable medical equipment and orthotics and prosthetic devices, Haley streamlined internal processes to improve outcomes. She was happy to see that ATF Medical already had systems in place along with a shared commitment to delivering equipment to injured workers as soon as possible.

Frequently working to fulfill mobility needs, she observed that workers with recent, complex injuries are not at the greatest points in their lives. In the beginning, injured workers are struggling, unhappy, and unable to manage activities of daily living. ATF Medical helps them transition from this difficult starting point to a place where they are mobile and happier.

Right now, she’s helping a woman replace a broken wheelchair.  “We’re working as fast as we can to get her a new power chair so she can get out of the house, go to the park and do her grocery shopping,” Haley said. “Being able to help someone get from that low point to where they can get around is life-changing,” said Haley. “I’m passionate about helping a patient get to the end result. “It is so exciting to see the impact the right equipment has on a person’s life.”

And she’s not alone in her desire to help ATF Medical’s workers’ compensation patients. “Every day I reach out to different people for contacts at manufacturers, to get recommendations–all kinds of things. People here are willing to help – the ATPs, my supervisor, technicians – they’re all ready to jump on a call to educate a patient or explain something to an insurance company.”

The swift response to her questions was a bit surprising. Haley wasn’t sure that she could get answers right away since everyone works remotely, but she said, “There is great teamwork.”

If you haven’t had a chance to work with Haley yet, hopefully, she’ll help with one of your cases soon. Meanwhile, shoot her an email at hmundt@atfmedical.com and say hello.



 

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