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All-terrain Wheelchairs Make Outdoor Exploration Accessible

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Georgia recently made all-terrain wheelchairs available at 11 state parks and other outdoor areas. The Action Trackchairs’ tank-like tracks can climb rocks, forge streams, and clear fallen trees. In partnership with the Aimee Copeland Foundation, Georgia has made the great outdoors more accessible to people who use wheelchairs. Georgia joins other states, including Michigan, Minnesota, and Colorado in this outdoors-accessibility mission. For the details, check out this article.

 

 

 

 

Assistive Technology Facilitates Independence for Injured Workers

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

November is National Assistive Technology Month, the perfect time to highlight the ways assistive technology changes the lives of our injured workers.

First, what does the term “assistive technology” mean? The Assistive Technology Industry Association defines it as “any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.”

In workers’ comp, powerchairs, Hoyer lifts, sip-and-puff controls, computer accessibility systems, and vehicle mods come to mind. But it goes way beyond equipment and computers. Adapting a bathroom so an injured worker can shower alone is a form of assistive technology. As is installing a ramp to enable an injured employee to engage in the community more easily and even return to work.

Assistive technology changes lives.

A stairlift lets an injured worker see what’s upstairs in their home. Equipping wheelchairs with outdoor tires helps them check out their property or take their kids fishing. A vehicle lift means patients can travel.

In one case, a spinal cord injury left an injured worker bedridden and unable to do much of anything by himself. An environmental control unit empowered him to turn lights on and off, change TV channels, play games, and raise and lower his bed. The unit restored some control over his life.

Assistive Technology Reduces Claims Costs

Savings often come from avoiding costs. Installing a transfer unit that eliminates the need for a caregiver can save $50,000 a year. A tilt function on a powerchair helps patients with spinal cord injuries shift positions to prevent pressure injuries.

Critical to cost containment, though, are planning and implementation. Complex claims call for a team of experts in diverse specialties who collaborate on a solution for a particular injured worker. The team may be comprised of an Assistive Technology Professional (ATP), Certified Disability Management Specialist (CDMS), Occupational Therapist (OT), Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC), Certified Assessment and Modification Professional (CHAMP), or a professional holding the Executive Certificate in Home Modification (ECHM) certification–among others.

The team needs to carefully consider the person’s clinical and functional condition, challenges, home, and goals. Then, they need to identify the best combination of medical equipment, accessibility technologies, and home modifications. The design needs to be outcomes-oriented. The solution should foster the injured employee’s recovery, mobility, and independence in the most cost-effective manner.

Too often this doesn’t happen because the team members don’t talk to each other. Medical equipment providers don’t collaborate with the occupational therapists (OTs) or the Assistive Technology Professionals (ATPs) or the home modification experts. Working in silos, they remodel a house without realizing its ceiling can’t support the lift or the floors can’t bear the weight of a 300-pound patient in a 450-pound power chair. So, the contractor widens doorways but not wide enough to accommodate a chair’s turning radius. Or the equipment doesn’t fit in the space.

Countless claims have been billed for expensive remodels or overly complicated equipment that the injured employee did not need or could not use. One company even received a home mod referral for a room addition to store durable medical equipment that wasn’t being used!

These errors drive claim costs, frustrate injured workers, and create problems for the adjusters. Lack of communication and coordination among providers account for these mistakes. Using an all-inclusive provider like ATF Medical eliminates potential competition and friction among the different entities.

ATF Medical’s Model

ATF Medical starts with a thorough assessment of the person’s physical, functional, and clinical condition and of their home. Then we assemble a team of credentialled experts to produce a solution that combines the most medically appropriate and cost-effective balance of equipment and technologies with adaptive housing changes.

Our service is comprehensive. We can just install a ramp if that’s all you need. But by partnering with leading manufacturers and contractors, ATF Medical delivers all the complex rehab technology a claim requires. Whether it’s sophisticated rehab chairs, custom manual chairs, specialty mattresses, vehicle lifts, home accessibility systems, and/or adaptive housing solutions … we do it all.

We plan and manage everything for you, too – all the ordering, delivery, and fitting. We educate the injured worker and their family on the use and maintenance of their assistive technology. We check on them after they’ve had a chance to use it to see how they’re doing and answer any questions. And we stay involved for the life of the claim, maintaining and repairing equipment and monitoring patients’ progress.

We also select and collaborate with contractors and manage the project scope, construction costs, and deadlines for adaptive housing projects. We make sure everything works and works together. And we communicate with claims reps every step of the way.

During Assistive Technology month, we’ll recognize some of our credentialled pros who help change the lives of injured workers. Be sure to give them a shout-out.

 

New Employee Spotlight: David Bedard

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022

Welcome David Bedard, our new Manager of Complex Rehab

David Bedard discovered his passion for medical equipment when he was a 17-year-old high school intern at Lowell Medical Instrument Company. This was in Lowell, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.

The company asked him to work for them after graduation, and he ended up staying 8 years. David did everything from posting payments to customer service to evaluating patients and helping them obtain equipment.

“The owner was my first mentor,” David said. “The store also carried medical instruments and I got great exposure to the rehab world there.”

After moving to Florida, David continued in the field for over 30 years. He has worked in just about every aspect of rehab technology, home modifications, and assistive technologies in retail and home health settings.

Over the years, he earned the Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) and the Certified Assessment and Modification Professional (C.H.A.M.P.) certifications. He has evaluated patients for custom mobility devices, created adaptive housing solutions, and recommended assistive technology to foster their independence and improve their quality of life. And he’s trained and managed others in the field.

Before coming to ATF Medical as Manager of Complex Rehab, he was with Orchid Medical, an ancillary provider specializing in workers’ compensation. He was a catastrophic care team leader for several years and later served as vice president of operations and vice president of quality assurance.

Now he oversees day-to-day operations and quality assurance for a team of ATF Medical’s ATPs and other professionals.

“We manage a claim from referral to finish, working through contractual agreements, evaluating patients, coordinating with the adaptive housing professionals, and ordering, delivering and fitting patients with equipment – everything,” David said. “And we communicate with claims representatives every step of the way.”

In addition, David coordinates ongoing training for our staff on products and services.

“ATF Medical has a real family atmosphere,” David said. “The culture is second to none – everyone welcomed me and made me feel like I’d been here for 20 years since day 1.”

He also appreciates company’s personal touch. “Unfortunately, this is a rare commodity these days,” David noted. “It’s refreshing to experience it as an employee and to be able to offer it to our clients and their injured employees.”

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the ATF Medical family, email Erin Zablocki at ezablocki@atfmedical.com.

New Employee Spotlight: Don Herbert, Senior Rehab Tech-Remote Monitoring Specialist

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

ATF Medical welcomes Don Herbert as Senior Rehab Tech-Remote Monitoring Specialist. Don brings considerable mobility product knowledge and years of experience selling and repairing medical equipment to his new position at ATF Medical.

For nearly 15 years, he was a service manager for Sage Mobility & Sage Medical Supply in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He previously held a similar position with another DME supplier in the state. In addition to overseeing daily operations for these companies, he built, installed and serviced equipment in people’s homes and vehicles and trained others to do the same. He started his career in the U.S. Army.

Now as our Senior Rehab Tech – Remote Monitoring Specialist, Don is building out and managing our teleservices model for evaluating equipment repairs.

“Video conferencing is a God send for this,” he said. Without a tele-evaluation for equipment repairs, injured workers can wait weeks just to have someone come to the house and determine what’s wrong and what it will take to fix it. That’s even before the parts can be ordered.

“We expedite parts orders and service repairs with these teleservice evals,” Don explained.

This is not just a matter of convenience, especially for patients with spinal cord injuries or other serious conditions. Without an operational powerchair, a workers’ comp patient may be stuck in bed, unable to get to doctors’ appointments, and limited in their ability to engage in many activities of daily living as our Executive Director of Sales, Market & Business Development Rick Wyche described in his WorkCompWire article.

In addition to his teleservice role, Don works with claims managers and clinicians to ensure that injured workers receive the rehab equipment, assistive technologies and adaptive housing solutions needed to foster independence and mobility and help them live fulfilling lives.

When asked about the difference between being on the DME supply side and working for ATF Medical, Don said, “Now, I get to work with so many more people and more directly with the people who use the products.”

When working on the DME supply side, Don fulfilled orders for equipment that someone else recommended. Now, he calls on his vast knowledge of manufacturers, products and features to help select the best combination of equipment, features, and adaptive housing solutions to meet an individual’s distinct needs.

And this is gratifying. “When we install a stair glide and making it possible for someone to go upstairs for the first time in years, it’s an amazing experience. You can see their lives change,” he said.

“I always wanted to help people and ATF Medical allows me to accomplish this on a grander scale than I ever imagined possible.”

Don gladly gave up a 75-mile round trip commute to work from home with ATF Medical, can be reached at dherbert@atfmedical.com. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet, please shoot him an email.

Exploring the ECHM Certificate

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022

The ECHM, Executive Certificate in Home Modification, is another credential some rehab professionals pursue.
The ECHM program focuses on maximizing home environments for disabled or elderly people. It’s designed for professionals working in the field of supportive home environments, such as remodelers/contractors, occupational and physical therapists, and Assistive Technology Professionals. Our Executive Director of Rehabilitation Erin Zablocki holds this certification among others.

The University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology offers the ECHM program. It involves five distinct on-line courses. Content covers assistive devices and home modifications to promote a person’s independence.

The classes also go into how to select a qualified contractor, negotiate for services, and read architectural plans. And there’s instruction on disease and function-specific modifications and ethics.

The whole point of home modifications, or as we call them—adaptive housing solutions—is to convert the environment to make performing tasks easier and support independent living. This can range from adding grab bars and ramps to complete kitchen remodels so an injured worker in a wheelchair can cook for themselves.

ATF Medical approaches these projects by evaluating the injured worker and the home and then deploying a team of experts in mobility, accessibility and construction to design and produce a new home setting for a specific injured or ill worker.

We evaluate rehab technology, assistive devices, and construction changes to create the most appropriate and cost-effective solution for a specific person. Our construction specialists select and oversee the contractors and ensure the work is completed on time and within budget. And we communicate with claims representatives every step of the way.

If you’d like more information on ECHM certification, please go to https://homemods.org/echm/ and to learn about ATF Medical’s adaptive housing solutions, contact Erin Zablocki, ECHM, CEAC at ezablocki@atfmedical.com.

Get Ready to Roll! The MWCEA Annual Conference Starts Sept. 18.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

MWCEA Annual Conference — Sept. 18-21

Pack those bags and head to Ocean City, Maryland for the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Education Association’s Annual Conference.

Be sure to visit ATF Medical’s Booth #82 and chat with Rick Wyche.  He’ll tell you about the latest in rehab technology and how we can customize solutions for your injured worker.

 

Coming Soon: Maryland Workers’ Comp Conference

Thursday, September 1st, 2022

The 2022 MWCEA Conference

September 18 – 21, 2022

Make plans to attend the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Education Annual Conference (MWCEA).

ATF Medical’s Rick Wyche will be there, ready to tell you about the latest in rehab technology. There are more amazing accessibility and mobility products available now than ever.  Find out how we can customize a solution for your injured worker.

The 2022 MWCEA Conference will be held September 18-21 at the Ocean City Fontainebleau Resort in Ocean City, MD.

Support CMS Coverage of Seat Elevation for Power Wheelchairs

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of Permobil

CMS is taking comments as it decides if it should cover seat elevation systems for power wheelchairs.

Among other things, Medicare requires durable medical equipment (DME) to “primarily and customarily be used to serve a medical purpose and make a meaningful contribution to the treatment of the individual’s illness or injury…when used in the home.”

Workers’ comp pros know these systems facilitate safe transfer to other surfaces and improve circulation and skin integrity– helping prevent pressure injuries (wounds.) Seat elevation also reduces the risk of muscle strain that comes from wheelchair users constantly looking and reaching upward.

The comment period, open until Sept. 14, gives workers’ comp a chance to help CMS understand these medical benefits.

There are links to great resources in Laurie Watanabe’s Mobility Management article.

Submit your comments here and email a copy to ezablocki@atfmedical.com

Other Links:

NCA – Seat Elevation Systems as an Accessory to Power Wheelchairs (Group 3) (CAG-00461N) – Submit Public Comments (cms.gov)

Industry Rallies Support During Seat Elevation Comment Period — Mobility Management (mobilitymgmt.com)

Visit ATF Medical at the GA Workers’ Comp Conference!

Monday, August 29th, 2022

From left: ATF Medical’s Rick Wyche, Erin Zablocki & Curt Moreen

Come by Booth 13 and say hello if you’re at The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Annual Educational Conference (Aug 29-31). We’d love to meet you…or see you again.

ATF Medical is sponsoring the conference’s Kid’s Chance Masquerade Extravaganza. Please join us in supporting this life-changing charity. There will be music, dancing, casino tables, and a silent auction and the fun starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Georgia is on Our Minds

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Annual Educational Conference, that is.

Being held August 29-31 in Atlanta, the conference theme is “Return of the Champions” so visit ATF Medical’s Champions Erin Zablocki and Rick Wyche at Booth 13.

They’ll tell you all about our patient-protecting, cost-saving Pressure Injury Prevention & Intervention program and the latest in rehab technology.

ATF Medical is sponsoring the conference’s Kid’s Chance Masquerade Extravaganza. Please join us in supporting this life-changing charity. There will be music, dancing, casino tables, and a silent auction and the fun starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

The gala and the conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel.  For more information and registration details, please click this link.

 

 

Contact us today!

Our expert staff is ready to oversee the selection, fit, client education and user satisfaction. We take the long view - responding to inquiries promptly and staying in touch, one-on-one - for the duration of the injured workers’ recovery.