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Complex rehab program heats up

Complex rehab program heats up ‘A lot of people lack a pre-service curriculum. That’s exactly what this is’

Weesie WalkerATLANTA – Work on the CRT Supplier Certificate Program has picked up pace now that it’s Weesie Walker’s only focus, she says. 

Walker, an ATP/SMS, stepped away from her role as executive director of NRRTS last year partly to focus on the program, which she believes is key to giving providers practical and real-life education and training that’s specific to complex rehab. 

“There’s a shortage of qualified people and so I wish we had started this 10 years ago,” said Walker, who is consulting NRRTS not only on the program but also its webinar series. “It’s been needed for such a long time.” 

Walker also now has help in Susan Taylor, an occupational therapist who is a part-time consultant and formerly of Numotion. 

In February, Walker and Taylor were in the process of completing the 8th and 9th courses for level 1, which will have a total of 10 courses, as well as outlining five courses for level 2. Level 2 will comprise a “deeper dive” into pediatrics, wheelchair fittings (for each manual and power wheelchairs), programming and, finally, business practices. 

“Once you’ve gone through the whole program, then it’s time for that last course, where you get into slightly more advanced topics, like ethics, and what ifs, now what,” Taylor said. 

Walker and Taylor are also planning a level 3 that will involve a demonstration of hands-on skills. 

“You don’t realize, until you’re sitting with a newbie who has taken just a measurement course, and you’ve asked them to demonstrate their skills and you’re thinking, ‘What are they doing?’” Taylor said. 

While many complex rehab providers have focused on developing and hiring assistive technology professionals (ATPs) because it is required by Medicare to provide certain wheelchairs, Walker and Taylor believe that’s “just a test, not a curriculum.” In Canada and Australia, where there is no such requirement, companies are using the program more widely as part of their onboarding process, they say. 

“Some companies don’t see beyond the ATP,” Taylor said. “But what’s the cost of not doing it right? The cost to the company and the client? If suppliers want to be a professional member of the care team, how can we support that if there’s not a standardized course of education to prepare them for it?” 

For Walker, the culmination of the program will be a long time coming. She remembers when Simon Margolis, who co-founded NRRTS, was the keynote speaker at the International Seating Symposium in 2015 and he coined the term “pre-service curriculum.” 

“A lot of people are turned out into this field to provide services and they lack a pre-service curriculum,” she said. “That’s exactly what this is.” 


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