One year later: Seating and mobility specialist credential

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va. – In an industry full of acronyms, the SMS credential is making room for itself.

For the past year, assistive technology professionals (ATPs) who specialize in seating and mobility have had the option of taking an exam provided by RESNA to add "seating and mobility specialist" to their list of credentials.

Those ATPs with the credential are set apart as dedicated to the seating and wheeled mobility aspect of assistive technology, according to Julie Piriano, first vice chair of the RESNA Professional Standards Board's executive board and director of rehab affairs at Pride Mobility.

"It validates their expertise and enhances their credibility," said Piriano. "It enables the public, medical professionals, third-party payers and those in need of seating and mobility services to identify and recognize these specialists as go-to people."

In its first year, 84 rehab professionals have taken the SMS exam and 60% have passed and received an SMS credential.

Greg Fleming is one of those rehab professionals.

"If you're doing high-end rehab and you don't have a certification, it makes people second-guess your abilities," said Fleming, who co-owns Flowood, Miss.-based Rehab Solutions with Scott Cumberland, who is also an SMS.

RESNA is pleased with how the SMS credential has been accepted in the ATP community, said Nell Bailey, executive director of RESNA.

"I guess it speaks to the great need for a specialty exam in this area and folks wanting to distinguish themselves to show the specific work they do," said Bailey. "I can sense a great deal of pride in that."

As stakeholders continue to push for a separate benefit for complex rehab, it’s possible that the SMS credential could play an even bigger role going forward, Piriano said. Those working to create the separate benefit are looking at other ways to help payers like Medicare identify the specialists that do complex rehab seating and wheeled mobility, she said.

"There is discussion with regard to raising the bar in some manner," Piriano said. "The SMS is one way it could be done."