Welcome to the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program: Research on Healthcare Policy and Disability

‘Assessment and Investigation of New Coverage Policies for Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) within a Contemporary Accountable Care Environment’

Our Mission is to partner with academia and key disability, industry, and policy stakeholders in a series of interrelated project activities to investigate how current wheelchair (i.e. CRT) health policy impacts health and function, community living and participation of working age people with disabilities.

This project is guided by NIDILRR’s mission to “Generate new knowledge and promote its effective use to improve the abilities of people with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community, and also to expand society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities.”

Fall/Winter 2021

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Journal Publication

A descriptive analysis of wheelchair repair registry data

The purpose of this study was to describe the types of manual wheelchair, power wheelchair, and scooter repairs within the Wheelchair Repair Registry (WRR) and examine the association between Wheeled Mobility and Seating devices and the frequency of repairs. A dataset of 4,645 devices distributed in the United States was collected from equipment suppliers who performed and logged community-based wheelchair repair services. The results demonstrated common repairs found across devices were within the wheels/tires/forks and batteries/cables categories. Device type was the most significant predictor of variance in the number of repairs. Customizable manual wheelchairs, tilt-in-space, Groups 2 & 3 power wheelchairs, and scooters were associated with higher number of repairs compared to non-customizable manual wheelchairs, pediatric, heavy-duty manual wheelchairs, and Group 4 power wheelchairs. The higher failure rate found in specific devices may be associated with a population of more active users, environment/conditions where equipment is used, time spent in equipment, additional features on device, or lower durability.

The above article was a written collaboration with the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90REGE0001) funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Wheelchair and Cushion Performance Standards group taking the lead.

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Posted 03/24/2022

Greg Packer of US Rehab

Rehabilitation Today – Greg Packer of US Rehab

This episode was previously recorded in 2021, but still very relevant today. Listen to the podcast interview on Rehabilitation Today where Kyle Walker, VP, Rehabilitation Program Development at HOMELINK/The VGM Group, interviewed Greg Packer, President of U.S. Rehab, and collaborator within the DRRP-CRT Policy grant. In this episode they discussed the benefits of CRT for individuals with disabilities and the importance of having highly trained, educated, and certified ATPs (Assistive Technology Professional), and service technicians involved in the evaluation and provision of these products to consumers to yield quality outcomes in CRT.

Click here to listen to podcast

Posted 03/21/2022

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Journal Publication

Investigation of factors from assistive technology professionals that impact timeliness of wheelchair service delivery: a cross-sectional study

The purpose of this study was to examine factors associated with variability in time from assessment to device delivery (cycle time). Our hypothesis was that device type and type of insurance would be the strongest predictor of cycle time. Data were extracted from the Functional Mobility Assessment/Uniform Dataset (FMA/UDS) Registry that at the time of analysis contained a sample of 2588 people with disabilities (PWD) who were provided with a wheeled mobility device (WMD) between 21 March 2016 and 29 June 2021. To examine the effect of individual factors on the variability in cycle time, a robust linear regression analysis was conducted. Longer cycle time is likely related to variations in clinical practice, insurance coverage criteria and the level of customizability of the device needed for a particular diagnosis, especially long-term disabilities.

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Posted 03/15/2022

Pamela Daly at her home in Charlestown

Wheelchairs repairs can take a month, or longer, leaving people stranded

March 9, 2022 by Gabrielle Emanuel, Senior Health and Science Reporter for WBUR

Researchers estimate that more than 50% of wheelchairs break down in a typical six-month period. One study found that among veterans the number is as high as 88%. When a chair breaks, it can take a long time to get it fixed. Experts put the average at two to four weeks, but stories of people waiting six months or longer for a wheelchair repair are common.

Click here to read story (Part 1) – March 9, 2022

Click here to read story (Part 2) – March 10, 2022

Posted 03/10/2022

Jane Velkovski

Jane Velkovski: The life-changing power of assistive technologies | TED

“This chair is my legs — this chair is my life,” says accessibility champion Jane Velkovski, who uses a wheelchair after being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). With clarity and poise, he shares how his first motorized wheelchair empowered him with independence and ability — and why assistive technology should be available to anyone who needs it. “Freedom of movement, no matter on legs or on wheels, is a human right,” he says.

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Posted 03/09/2022

Finding a Better Way to Pay

Dr. Mark Schmeler Talks Rehab

In this Talk Rehab podcast episode, Dr. Mark Schmeler talks about the upcoming International Seating Symposium (ISS) and the ongoing DRRP Program: Research on Healthcare Policy and Disability… Assessment and Investigation of New Coverage Policies for Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) within a Contemporary Accountable Care Environment.

Click here to access the podcast

Posted 12/31/2021

Finding a Better Way to Pay

Finding a Better Way to Pay

In the latest issue of Lets Get Moving Magazine, Dr. Mark Schmeler, the lead investigator of a federally funded grant seeking to find a better way to pay for complex rehabilitation technology, was interviewed along with his work as an associate professor and vice chair for education and training at the University of Pittsburgh. The article discusses the current work on the grant, the goal of his research and how he hopes it shapes future policy.

Click here to access the magazine

Posted 12/13/2021

CRT Survey

Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) Wheelchair Policy Survey

The University of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with other investigators, seeks the opinion of all stakeholders related to wheelchair service and funding. This work is part of the larger Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project funded to investigate and propose a new policy that better aligns with the needs of people who use wheelchairs as well as those who provide or pay for them. We are seeking broad feedback from all stakeholder groups including people who use wheelchairs, care-partners/caregivers, clinicians, suppliers, manufacturers, policymakers, and funding sources to identify the benefits and short-comings of various types of existing wheelchair policies both in the United States and around the world. Participation includes responding to a series of questions related to your opinion of wheelchair service and funding that includes timeliness, complexity of the process, repairs/maintenance, quality, durability, access to proper equipment. The survey should take 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

Click here to access the survey link

Posted 12/02/2021

ISS Webinar

Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) Service Delivery and Clinical Assessment Research: What Happens Behind the Curtain

Research provides structure and guidance for an ever-changing service delivery and clinical landscape for CRT provision, but do you ever wonder “what are they really doing and how does it affect my practice”? Listen to DRRP Team members provide insight into the plan of what actually happens, and how the plan changes for research related to service delivery and clinical practice in the CRT field. The panelists provide an inside look to the trials and tribulations of CRT research, challenges of development of a seating and mobility assessment index, unveil the mysterious world of CRT research, and identify opportunities for supplies, industry partners, clinicians, policy experts, and CRT users to participate and influence research in the field.

Click here to view the web link

Posted 11/12/2021

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The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90DPGE0014-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, or HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.