Outcomes tool reveals trends in assistive devices

Developers call for increased participation to solidify results
Friday, July 22, 2016

ARLINGTON, Va. – More than a year after U.S. Rehab launched the Functional Mobility Assessment tool to a select group of its members, the results are in—sort of.

“We’re seeing a trend, but it’s not statistically significant,” said Mark Schmeler, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, atthe RESNA/NCART 2016 Conference in Arlington, Va., in July. 

Developed over the past 15 years by Schmeler and Margo Holm, also a professor at UPitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the FMA tool measures patient satisfaction with assistive devices like walking aids, prosthetics and wheelchairs. So far, clinicians have gathered data for 1,200 “time 1 cases”—scores given during the initial evaluation—and 400 “time 2 cases”—scores given during the first follow-up.

The trend Schmeler’s starting to see: When wheelchair users were unable to keep seat-elevating technology due to a lack of funding, their satisfaction scores went down. Seat elevators make it easier for users to reach and transfer.

“We had 20 subjects,” said Schmeler. “But to show significance, we would need 80 or 100 people with that scenario. That means we need to get up to 10,000 and 4,000 cases in our database based on time 1 and time 2 data, (respectively), as quickly as possible.”

This month, U.S. Rehab rolled out the outcomes tool to all U.S. Rehab members and plans to offer the tool to non-U.S. Rehab members in 2017.

“The data we’re collecting right now is going to show that there is a significant difference in patient outcomes when you have a high-quality complex rehab provider working with a high-quality ATP,” said Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab, a division of The VGM Group. “So we can prove to CMS that we’re out here being stewards to our industry and stewards to our patients.”