Cathy Craver, physical therapist, teaches wheelchair fitting to other therapists with a goal of optimizing function for patients. Cathy works at Spain Rehabilitation Center and recently presented “Seating and Wheeled Mobility: Where Science and Art Meet” to therapists in North Alabama. Cathy has a passion for helping others and has been a physical therapist at Spain Rehabilitation Center for more than 11 years. “I decided I wanted to work with people who have regular problems and who want to live a regular life. I wanted to find a way to help people make the most of their life situation given their disability. Since then it’s been a creative challenge. How do you help people make the most of what they have so they can live the life they have left to live? That drives me every day.” Wheelchair evaluation and fittings are one of the ways she does that.
People who use wheelchairs know the correct wheelchair fit is essential for optimal function. Wheelchairs come in all shapes and sizes and people who have issues with limits in mobility often cannot shift, move or maintain upright sitting without the supports provided by their chairs. “Your wheelchair is an important part of your life, so you want to make sure you end up with the right wheelchair that fits your body, preferences, activities and lifestyle” says The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), an advocacy group for individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), and burn injury. “With new types of wheelchairs and components coming on the market all the time, the days of “one size fits all” are long gone.” Some of MSKTC recommends you consider include:
The Clinic: Selecting the right clinic is a critical first step. The clinic you select should have a process and the key players in place to assist you with making the right choice.
The Team: Your team should include experienced rehabilitation professionals including:
• A medical doctor who understands your overall health situation. The doctor is the one who writes the prescription needed for your insurance to pay for the wheelchair and has ultimate responsibility for determination of medical necessity.
• An Occupational or physical therapist who is experienced in wheelchair evaluation and training.
• A Qualified wheelchair supplier who works with the therapy and medical team to trial, order and maintain equipment.
Certification: Many occupational and physical therapists and wheelchair suppliers will have Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) certification from RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) indicating they have passed a national examination and credentials check in their specialty. If Medicare is the payer, they require the wheelchair vendor to have at least one ATP-credentialed specialist.
Karen Allen Hislop is the therapist who does wheelchair evaluations and fittings at Therapy Achievements. She is ATP Seating Specialist certified with RESNA and has been doing wheelchair evaluations and fittings for over 20 years. She works with a number of doctors and wheelchair suppliers to ensure patients get the correct wheelchair fit for optimal function.
Therapy Achievements is a Rehabilitation Center that provides Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy for Balance and Movement, Speech and Swallowing, Swelling from Lymphedema and Edema, Driving Rehabilitation and Functional Living Skills for visual and cognitive re-training. We help people with Brain Injury, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Lymphedema, Head and Neck Cancer, Vertigo and Dizziness, and other disorders that interfere with mobility and function. We offer VitalStim Technology, Saebo Technology, LSVT LOUD Treatment, LSVT BIG Treatment, and Neuro-Developmental Treatment.