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Unite4CRT puts issues into focus

Unite4CRT puts issues into focus

Unite4CRT, a group of wheelchair users and complex rehab stakeholders that meets online for monthly “Conversations,” is organizing the first in what will be a series of focus groups to increase its participation and advocacy efforts. 

The first focus group, led by Jean Minkel, a PT and ATP, will focus on Medicare’s in-the-home requirement, which restricts beneficiaries to getting wheelchairs that can be used in the home. 

“We’re trying to collect people who want to be part of starting to make changes and differences in this area,” said Jenny Siegle, who hosts “Conversations” and who was named the NRRTS Consumer Advocate of the Year in 2020. “We want to focus on videos that show what it’s like in the home environment and the community environment, and how it’s different and why you need different equipment in a community environment. Certain wheelchairs are fine in the home, but you can’t get outdoors.” 

The project is still in the early stages, Siegle says, but a future focus group might tackle telehealth and how it has been a lifeline for wheelchair users during the pandemic and why it should continue to be allowed beyond the public health emergency. Another possibility: Medicare coverage for power seat elevation and power standing systems. 

In addition to the focus groups, Unite4CRT has developed and disseminated postcards to increase participation. The postcards include a QR code that people can scan to connect to the group and join their advocacy efforts. 

“We have a great core group, but we want it to grow,” Siegle said. 

That core group includes a handful of wheelchair users that include Siegle and that typically attend an annual congressional fly-in organized by NCART and NRRTS to advocate for complex rehab on Capitol Hill. 

“I’ve been to Washington, D.C., every year since 2009, but I haven’t been able to go for the past few years because of COVID,” she said. “Our monthly ‘Conversations’ has helped us stay in touch year-round. Then it expanded to other people like caretakers, suppliers and therapists, and it’s growing into this real community.”



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