'It's astounding that this didn't exist'

Thursday, June 30, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va. - RESNA in June published a provision guide that describes, step-by-step, what is involved in providing a wheelchair for a patient.

"There were certain parts and pieces of this that existed in other places, but the basics of the provision process were nowhere," said Lauren Rosen, head of the Wheeled Mobility and Seating Special Interest Group for RESNA, the committee that originated the paper. "It's astounding that this didn't exist."

RESNA brought together a group of experts, including PTs, OTs, physicians, ATPs, rehab engineers and manufacturing employees, to develop The Wheelchair Provision Guide. 

The guide describes the process in its simplest form, according to lead writer Mary Shea, clinical manager of the wheelchair clinic at the Kessler Institute for Rehab in West Orange, N.J.

"We made a lot of effort to make sure it was a guide and not a guideline," said Shea. "(We wanted) to make sure that it was readable to all stakeholders."

Mark Schmeler, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation, said creating provision guides like this one is a step toward getting respect and acknowledgment. 

"Unless someone goes out and does a research study tomorrow that disproves our wheelchair guide, that sort of prevails as the gold standard," said Schmeler, one of the paper's authors.  

Schmeler said the guide can be used in policymaking, teaching and even litigation.

Additionally, Rosen sees the guide as a possible step toward clinical practice guidelines, a foundation of many fields in PT and OT. Such guidelines help to ensure consumer protection and help to raise the standard of services provided, she said.

The guide is available at http://www.resna.org/dotAsset/22485.pdf.