CELA makes consumers 'big emphasis'

Monday, January 18, 2010

STERLING, Va. - NRRTS's Continuing Education and Legislative Advocacy Conference (CELA) is going to look a little different this year, says Executive Director Simon Margolis.

In early January, about 250 consumers had submitted scholarship applications to participate in the Capitol Hill visits that will take place during the conference. NRRTS has raised enough money from sponsors and other contributors to accept 25 to 30 of those applications.

"We had eight consumers last year, so we're pushing as hard as we can," Margolis said. "It's a big emphasis."

NRRTS, along with NCART and the University of Pittsburgh, will host CELA April 28-30 at the Holiday Inn Washington Dulles Airport. Sponsors include Invacare, Permobil, Quantum Rehab, Sunrise Medical and National Seating & Mobility.

NRRTS has attracted more consumers thanks to new partnerships with New Mobility Magazine, a magazine for wheelchair users, and the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Margolis said.

"Reaching their consumer base and bringing consumers to Washington, D.C., is the only way that we're going to be effective with efforts to create a separate benefit for complex rehab," he said.

In addition to Capitol Hill visits, the conference features 10 hours of continuing education, including "Sacred Cows, Ouija boards and Magic 8 balls: How are equipment decisions really made?" presented by Lauren Rosen of St. Joseph's Hospital of Tampa and Gerry Dickerson of Medstar in College Point, N.Y.

"The presentations were developed specifically for CELA," Margolis said. "We challenged our presenters to be different, exciting and controversial. We didn't want them to give us the same stuff."

Another highlight: Dr. Suzanne Groah of the National Rehab Hospital in Washington. D.C., will give a keynote address on the disparities in assistive technology for people with spinal cord injuries.

The conference costs $75 for NRRTS registrants, $90 for friends of NRRTS, $90 for NCART members and $115 for all others.