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Who uses CRT wheelchairs? A closer look, Part 1

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They’re veterans, accident survivors and those living with extended illnesses. They’re your neighbor, community member or maybe even friend or family member. They all have one thing in common: they use CRT wheelchairs.

At the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology, we fight to stop Medicare cuts to these medically-necessary devices. For today’s blog, we’re going to look at the different types of people who use complex rehabilitation technology:

Those living with Multiple Sclerosis

This disease occurs when the immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers, resulting in a breakdown of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. The symptoms for some individuals living with multiple sclerosis can be severe, and many rely on daily caretakers. Were it not for their wheelchairs, they would lose to ability to perform many daily tasks and functions, relying completely on the actions of others for almost everything.

Veterans

A bullet that shatters a spine, a roadside bomb that leaves head injuries, a firefight that destroys limbs… the number of different injuries a soldier can return with are numerous. It’s estimated that between the years 2002 to 2012, approximately 253,330 soldiers returned home with traumatic brain injuries. Some of those veterans need CRT wheelchairs as a result of those head injuries. In the Iraq War alone, close to 1,000 soldiers lost limbs during the fight.

Accident Survivors

Most people are familiar with Christopher Reeve, the actor who played in many Superman movies. He required the use of a CRT wheelchair after he was thrown from a horse and injured. He later became an advocate for those with disabilities. Many people are injured in similar ways every day, most notably during automobile accidents, and also require the use of CRT wheelchair as a result.

 

There are numerous other conditions that can lead to someone needing a CRT wheelchair. The accessories that may be cut from Medicare coverage include things such as controls and custom seating. Without controls, many wheelchair users would not be able to get around, and without custom seating, many would deal with sores and pain in their backs.

What does NCART do?

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If you’re new to our webpage, or you’ve been here for a while but just haven’t had a chance to really poke around, you might be wondering what NCART is all about. In today’s blog, we’d like to cover a little about what we stand for and what we do.

NCART stands for National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology. We ensure that those with significant disabilities have access to Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) by working with the users, the clinicians, the physicians and legislators at all levels of government.

Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) includes specialized power or manual wheelchairs that are configured to an individual’s unique medical needs. The technology also includes items such as positioning seats, standing devices or gait trainers. They are evaluated, configured, adjusted and programmed to meet the medical needs of the individual using them.

However, as any clinician, supplier, caregiver, or wheelchair user can attest, obtaining these medically-necessary devices is becoming more challenging. Issues regarding coding, coverage and payment are mounting all across the board, whether it’s in regards to private payers or payers at the state and federal levels.

NCART works to make sure access to CRT is upheld. We approach payers and lawmakers to advocate for the needs of individuals with significant disabilities and medical conditions and work to establish the policies that will help, rather than hinder, their access to medically-needed devices.

While we’ve seen a great victory recently with the passage of S. 2425 and a one-year delay to CMS’s plan to apply competitive bid pricing to accessories used with Complex Power Wheelchairs, there is still more we can do in 2016. Keep visiting our website or reading our blog for more updates.

Healthy New Year

Make 2015 your healthiest year yet by committing to one or more of these healthy resolutions.

Make 2015 your healthiest year yet by committing to one or more of these healthy resolutions.

The holidays are over and everyone is thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. This is a great time to start fresh and commit to making healthy decisions. According to research by the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people who make a resolution actually keep them for the entire year. If you are still trying to think of a healthy resolution, we can help! The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology believes that you can be one of those 8 percent and create healthy habits that stick all year long.

  1. Exercise regularly – Strength training, wheelchair yoga, and sports are great ways to stay fit and healthy. Not only does exercise tone your muscles, it also keeps your mind sharp and energy up!
  2. Kick bad habits – There are so many bad habits out there! Some of the main ones are smoking, drinking too much, excessive caffeine consumption, and improper use of both prescription and illegal drugs. There are different treatment options for each that can give you the support you need to make a positive change.
  3. Drink more water – Drink approximately eight glasses of water each day. Carbonated drinks don’t count! The amount of water that you drink should be determined by activity, humidity and age. We tend to drink less water in the winter but the air’s lower humidity can increase our risk for dehydration.
  4. Keep up with physicals – An annual physical is necessary for both you and your doctor to evaluate your overall health, go over medications, and prescribe any changes or tests. Preventative maintenance is just as important as treating a pre-existing condition.
  5. Keep up with CRT issues– Complex Rehab Technology products and services are needed by many individuals with significant disabilities and chronic medical conditions. The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology is dedicated to making sure that these individuals have access to the appropriate support they need. If you would like to get involved in helping us gain both federal and state support, check out our website.

Choose your goal for 2015, and stick with it! The start to a new year is the perfect time to have a fresh start and develop healthier habits. We believe in you!

Winter Safety for You and Your Wheelchair

The winter weather can be hard on both you and your wheelchair. Take some steps to protect both of you.

The winter weather can be hard on both you and your wheelchair. Take some steps to protect both of you.

Winter weather can definitely cramp your usually mobile style. Ice and snow become obstacles on roads and sidewalks and the cold air is hard on your skin. It’s important for individuals to be aware of the potential dangers colder weather may bring. That is why the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology has put together some safety tips to keep both you and your wheelchair safe this winter.

For your wheelchair:

Unfortunately, wheelchairs don’t typically come with a four-wheel drive option. But there are a few add-ons you can use to make your wheelchair more all-terrain.

Tires: There are many different options available to you. All-weather tires can make a huge difference in whether you can get where you need to go.

Wheelchair clothing: Waterproof ponchos that are large enough to cover both you and your chair are available. Some even have hoods to keep your head warm and dry! This will protect you from wet and cold and your chair from becoming damaged or worn due to weather.

For you:

There are so many ways you can take care of yourself during the wet winter months. Taking care of you first and foremost will make these days much more pleasant. Here are a few ideas for things to carry with you to keep you mobile and comfortable.

Hand and foot warmers: These are especially important if you have reduced feeling in your extremities. Warming boots and mitten or shoe inserts keep you cozy and warm.

Rock salt: Keep a small bag with you at all times in case you need to help de-ice slippery sidewalks as you go.

Skin protection: The sensitive skin on your lips and cheeks are especially vulnerable to the cold air. Keep a travel size tube of skin protectant on hand to show your skin some love.

Keep an emergency kit: Keep essentials like a blanket, bottled water, cell phone charge, and a fully-charged battery for your mobility device in a small emergency kit in case an emergency pops up.

The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology works to give individuals with disabilities the products and support they need to live an active and mobile life. We don’t want you to lose any of your independence this winter due to harsh weather conditions. If you are going to brave the cold weather, make sure you are prepared and stay safe.

Prevent, Detect and Manage Skin Irritations during Healthy Skin Month

There are various measures you can take to protect your skin and keep it healthy.

There are various measures you can take to protect your skin and keep it healthy.

November is National Healthy Skin Month! That means it is time to really evaluate the health of the largest organ of your body. We often take our skin for granted and forget to take good care of it. Individuals in wheelchairs are especially prone to certain skin irritations due to lack of mobility. The National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology (NCART) wants to see individuals living in wheelchairs every day keeping every inch of themselves as healthy as possible. Check out some of the different measures you can take to keep your skin.

Skin Care

Monitoring the condition of your skin and proactively protecting it can help you identify and treat any kind of sores before they worsen.

  • Protect the skin – Some areas of the skin are vulnerable to excess moisture. Use talcum powder to protect those areas and apply lotion to drier places. Remember to clean the skin every day with mild soap and warm water.
  • Inspect skin daily – Check for vulnerable areas and early signs of pressure sores. A care provider or mirror may be needed to help complete a thorough inspection.
  • Manage incontinence to keep the skin dry – If you have urinary or bowel incontinence, prevent exposing the skin to moisture and bacteria. This may mean more frequent bathroom trips or diaper changes. Protective lotions on healthy skin may also help prevent areas from becoming irritated.

Nutrition

What you eat also plays a role in improving the health of your skin.

  • Choose a healthy diet – Ask a doctor or dietician about any recommended nutritional changes they think would help improve your skin’s health. That may mean increasing the amount of protein, vitamins and minerals in your diet.
  • Drink more water – Good hydration is key for maintaining healthy skin. Water keeps the skin hydrated and prevents irritations and dryness.

NCART is dedicated to helping those that need mobility assistance and we want you to take care of yourself! For more information on NCART, visit our website at www.ncart.us.

Wheelchair Fitness Routine

 

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Maintaining and building strength is important for your overall health

Fitness is a hot topic in our country right now. However, all the fitness trends and infomercials you see on television are all geared toward those with full mobility. Individuals who depend on wheelchairs or other mobility devices benefit from a fitness routine just as much as those who are not.

Developing a fitness routine can help you stave off medical conditions, obesity and decreased mobility. The key is to not jump in too fast. Instead, ease yourself into a new routine. Doing too much in the beginning is an easy way to injure yourself and can prevent you from working out for even longer. The following is a basic approach to starting an exercise program.

Start with a transitional phase; your body needs time to adjust to doing certain kinds of work again. Use only your bodyweight in doing simple, repetitive tasks, such as lifting your arms from the side of your body so they form a “T” with your torso. Be sure to put an emphasis on using the correct form as this helps build muscle strength and endurance while also preventing injuries.

After you are used to bodyweight exercises, you can begin using lighter free weights or a resistance band to begin to build and tone more muscle. Resistance bands and lighter free weights are relatively inexpensive, and medicine balls can be used for a variety of workouts. Be sure to leave a day of rest between your workouts and never work the same muscles two workouts in a row. Overworking muscles can cause fatigue and injury.

You should be able to see the benefit of these workouts because they should help build functional strength and lead to a healthier you.

The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology is dedicated to ensuring that individuals with significant disabilities and chronic medical conditions have access to appropriate Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) products and related supporting services. Check out our website to see how you can get involved with helping us gain federal and state support.

Rise and Shine and Stretch

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A simple stretch routine can bring you major health benefits

Stretching can do wonders for your health and wellness. It increases blood flow to your entire body and can increase your range of motion to make daily tasks easier. It can also relieve stress by releasing tension from muscles. The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology is dedicated to the care and advocacy for those with spinal cord injuries so we put together this simple stretch routine that can be done from home!

Safety is very important when it comes to stretching. Make sure that you consult a doctor beforehand to make sure that you are stretching the correct muscles and doing it in a safe way. Be sure to do all stretches gradually and never force a stretch. Only stretch to the point where you feel it but not to where you feel pain. How long and how often you choose to stretch may vary. You can ask a doctor about what is right for you. Here are some easy stretching exercises to get you started:

  • Place your left hand under your left knee and pull your left knee up towards your chest for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise on your right side.
  • Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and lean forward. Loop a strap around the bottom of your foot and pull it gently until your knees are straight. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat it 10 times.
  • Lie on your back and raise your arms straight above your head to stretch out the shoulders. Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat. You can also stretch your arms above your head while sitting upright.

Getting into a stretching routine can have many health benefits. Recruit a friend or loved one to help with stretches each day to help motivate you and keep it fun!

The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology helps ensure that people with spinal cord injuries, spinal bifida, muscular dystrophy and other conditions receive the necessary equipment and related supporting services they deserve.  If you, or someone you know could benefit from our services, check out our website!

Want to Help Prevent Childhood Obesity? Start Here

Keep your family healthy and happy.

Keep your family healthy and happy.

Childhood obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the last thirty years. This is a dangerous statistic because childhood obesity can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. It is dangerous for their health short-term and in the long run, because children that are obese are twice as likely to be obese as adults. Below NCART has provided six ways to prevent childhood obesity. We encourage you to incorporate these into your life and spread awareness to others.

  • Childhood obesity prevention begins at home, teaching the importance of a healthy and balanced diet. Provide your home with fruits, vegetable, whole grains, and protein, limiting the amount of junk food available.
  • Include children in grocery shopping and meal preparation and encourage them to help you find healthy and fun recipes. When they are more involved with packing their lunch or cooking dinner, they will be excited about healthy and wholesome meals.
  • Encourage children to get moving. Find a sport, indoor activity or outdoor activity they enjoy and do it often.
  • Use birthdays as an opportunity to provide children with items to encourage any physical activity they are capable of doing.
  • Limit screen time, which has been linked to obesity, violence, behavioral problems, irregular sleep, and poor academic performance. Use this guide on how much screen time should be allowed for children at different ages.
  • If you are concerned with your child’s weight, visit your pediatrician, who will provide you with advice on approaching the issue. They will measure the child’s Body Max Index (BMI) and determine if their body weight is adequate for their height. The goal is typically not to enforce weight loss, but rather to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage positive changes.

These are just a few ideas families can incorporate into their homes to prevent childhood obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle. Step by step, homes can become a place of health and happiness.

The National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology hopes to increase the availability for Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) for all children, adolescents, and adults in need. Visit our website to see how to get involved and help us gain support on a state and federal level.

What to Know During National Food Allergy Awareness Month

Be prepared wherever you go with this information.

Be prepared wherever you go.

September is Food Allergy Awareness Month and there is no better time to draw attention to the condition that affects approximately 15 million Americans. This number has increased by 50% from 1997 until 2011 for unknown reasons. With more people who suffer with a food allergy, we feel it is important for people to be aware of what a reaction looks like and what to do if one occurs. An individual who uses Complex Rehab Technology may require more attention if they are dealing with a food allergy. They must have someone ensure they do not come in contact with the offending food and monitor all substances they consume.

NCART values you and your overall health, which is why we want to provide ways to be safe against food allergies. We hope you find these helpful when caring for yourself or a loved one.

The eight most common food allergies that make up for 90% of all cases include:

  • Peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, milk, eggs, fish, and shellfish

If someone allergic to one of the above consumes even a small amount, they may suffer with:

  • Sneezing, stuffy nose, itchy or watering eyes, swelling, rash, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Symptoms of more severe cases may include:

  • Difficulty breathing, wheezing, dizziness, fainting, turning blue, and drop in blood pressure.

If you ever sense someone is having an allergic reaction, check for identification on a bracelet or piece of jewelry. Give them their auto-injector if they have it and call 911 immediately.  It is important for anyone with a food allergy to have their identification and up to date prescription with them at all times.  A caregiver for a CRT patient should ensure they always have their identification on them so others are aware of their condition when they may not be able to explain it. By being aware of the symptoms, you will better be able to identify a reaction and take measures necessary to ensure their safety.

Whether you use CRT or know someone who does, we encourage you to visit our site and learn about the current state and federal issues. Join in our efforts for the protection of CRT and we wish you a safe and healthy month!

CRT Patient and Caregiver Summer Safety Tips

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Children and adults using Complex Rehab Technology require unique considerations for their daily lives. Every patient deserves special treatment to meet their needs in the best way possible. NCART hopes to provide patients and their loved ones with information on federal and state issues regarding government control and assistance with CRT patients.  In today’s blog we would like to draw attention to the needs that must be met during summer. With temperatures rising and sun shining, it is important to keep smart summer habits in mind.

It may seem an obvious summer risk, but when someone is exposed to the sun for an extended period of time they can get sun burnt and suffer skin damage. An individual utilizing a manual or power wheelchair outdoors should be especially careful. When stationary in a chair, the same areas of skin are exposed at all times. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed areas and sunglasses worn to protect the eyes.

The risk of dehydration increases in the summer any time more water is lost than consumed. Symptoms of dehydration are dry mouth, fatigue, fainting, and others. Be sure to drink water throughout the day and eat foods high in water concentration. If you are caring for a CRT patient, ensure they are well hydrated throughout the day as well.

CRT equipment can become hot under the sun and burn a patient using it. If the chair is under the sun at the pool, baseball field, or park, be sure to cover metal parts with a towel to prevent burning.

This summer we hope you and your family are able to get outdoors and make memories. Visit www.ncart.us to learn more about current issues and facts concerning CRT.