Shoulder Prevention: Are we doing enough?
We have been discussing shoulder preservation over the past couple months and today I want to finish our discussion with this video. When I watched this video, I became overwhelmed with several emotions. I must have watched this clip 10 times in a row. Over and over, each time thinking about all of my clients, individuals with a mobility impairment, but the thought that I couldn’t stop thinking about was – Are we doing enough?
Watch this video. Watch it at least twice. The first time you might laugh seeing the challenge for the one end-user at self-propelling up the ramp versus the other end-user who is utilising the SmartDrive power assist. The second time you watch this, what do you see?
For me, I see two things. First, a strong woman pushing to her limits to overcome that ramp. She should be proud, as many of us might not be able to accomplish such a task, but I can’t help but also see someone who has to struggle to achieve the same outcome as the person next to them. Every time I watch this video I think about her shoulders, her goals, her independence. Is she able to get everywhere she wants to go, safely and independently? Or, is she limited because of her environment and her equipment? What happens to her shoulders a year from now? 15 years from now? Will she be able to maintain her independence and navigate in all the environments she encounters? Are we doing enough?
The founder of Permobil, Dr. Per Udden, so perfectly stated, “Every person has the right to have his or her disability compensated as far as possible by aids with the same technical standard as those we all use in our everyday lives.”. I think about this statement, this video, and I know that as an industry we have to do more.
Now, it’s important to say that many end-users may choose to not have a power assist or prefer even if they have one to propel independently up ramps for example, that is their choice and as a therapist we recommend what we believe to be safe and beneficial to the client. However, how many clients are not able to receive the equipment necessary for them to live their lives to this same technical standard? This is where my question comes in… Are we doing enough?
This question is for everyone: The manufacturers, end-users, therapists, dealers, families, and carers. Are we doing enough?
No matter what your role above may be, we all have to work together to make sure that individuals with mobility impairments are receiving equipment that is necessary for them to complete their goals and to live their lives to the same technical standard.
There is a massive task for manufacturers to continually design and develop products to meet these needs and while gaps exist, we see some amazing products coming out to help support individuals with mobility impairments.
Then there is a gap. We often see many of these products, but end-users are unable to access them. This can be for many reasons, oftentimes this can happen from a lack of knowledge of the products, not understanding the client’s needs or goals, limited resources, and limitations of funding.
No matter where this gap comes from, we have to all work together to help close these gaps. During the actual assessment and evaluation this means working from a team approach. If we have the therapist, client, family, carer, and dealer all working together in the assessment we see the best outcomes, but we can’t just stop there.
Funding. This can be a very hot topic around the world. We see countries with funding systems based on the client’s functional needs, the client’s medical necessity, or given an allocated fund that they can use to their discretion. We see funding systems with strict guidelines in what is/is not funded while other systems are open to understanding why the recommended equipment is necessary.
The purpose of this blog is not to discuss funding and it is not to talk negative about any country’s funding system. While we can shift the question to the funding bodies and ask, “Are they doing enough?”, instead I want us to first shift the question back to our industry and ask again, “Are WE doing enough?”.
As an industry, have we done enough to show the impact that this equipment can have on an individual’s life? How often do we see videos like the one above? Does the funding system understand the impact that a device or piece of equipment can have on an individual’s life? Has this been explained? For many countries this is discussed by the therapist on the request for funding, but what about after? Once the equipment has been approved and delivered, do we show this impact?
Just as in the assessment we work together as a team, we have to have this same team approach if we want the community outside of our small industry to understand.
If you are a therapist this means educating the community, the clients, and the families. Talk about what it is you do and why you do it. Share your stories of success. Work together with other therapists to share your knowledge and experiences. Attend conferences, seminar, and workshops to not only advance your knowledge, but to support your industry.
If you are an end-user, family, or carer – Show and talk about what your equipment does for you! It doesn’t have to be a power assist, this can be your manual wheelchair, your power wheelchair, etc.… We want everyone within and outside of the industry to see the impact that a device or piece of equipment can have on someone’s life. This is how we as an industry become better. This is how we are able to start having those conversations with funding bodies. This is how we can make change happen.
Our world is no longer big. As we continue to progress with technology, we see that our world becomes smaller. We can interact with people across the world. This means that we can work as a team. Maybe you live in a country where you have access to great equipment. Have you thought about how sharing your experiences could help in other countries where funding/resources/awareness is limited?
No matter which part of the team you are, we all have a part to play and just as any team – the more we can work together the better the outcome of success.
If you are an end-user of one of our many Permobil products we want to hear from you! This includes Permobil, TiLite, ROHO, and SmartDrive. Share with us your story of success. Please email Rachel.Fabiniak@permobil.com or your local Permobil Territory Sales Manager.