Christopher Reeve ‘brought a bright light to our industry’

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Sunday, October 24, 2004

October 25, 2004

BEDFORD, N.Y. - The HME industry lost a good friend in Oct. 10  when movie star and disability advocate Christopher Reeve passed away following complications related to a pressure ulcer. He was 52.
 “Christopher Reeve brought a light to our industry,” said Jerry Keiderling, vice president of VGM’s U.S. Rehab. “He was very active and very vocal and very visible as to what people need. I’m sad to see him go.”
A 1995 fall from a horse transformed Reeve from a middle-aged movie star into the world's most famous quadriplegic. Reeve eventually returned to television, which he used as an outlet for his advocacy. In a recent interview with Larry King, Reeve spoke passionately on the need for insurance companies to maintain patient access by paying providers fairly for wheelchairs and other necessary equipment. Doing so makes sense not only for patients but for insurers, who will save money by keeping beneficiaries home and avoiding costly hospitalizations, he said.
“He brought so much attention to quads,” said Terry Luft, president of Central Medical Equipment in Harrisburg, Pa. “When we talked about chairs to people, we would often say, ‘The type that Christopher Reeve is in,’ and they would say, ‘Oh, yeah.’ They never knew there was a $25,000 chair. People couldn’t understand it. And when they saw him in it, they understood. He was an eye opener for the industry.”
Added Keiderling: “When it first happened and you say him in equipment, people were like, ‘Wow. I didn’t realize that was available for people who were paralyzed.’ They thought they were stuck in bed some where. He let the world know that there is mobility. Here is a guy who’s life changed 180 degrees, but he is still mobile. It let people know what the industry can do for you.”
On Saturday, Oct. 9, Reeve fell into a coma after going into cardiac arrest while at home. Reeve was being treated for an infection caused by a pressure wound. The infection become systemic, which contributed to his heart failure. He died Oct. 10 at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York.
Even following his death, Reeve continue to educate the public.
“Good Morning America was talking about what a decubitous ulcer is, which a lot of the world didn’t know,” Luft said. “That is going to bring a lot of attention to how important seating is. It is not just to make your tush feel good.”

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