Shopping for mobility-related devices is practically like shopping for a new car these days.
Modern consumers can quite literally peruse vehicles in a plush facility that is eerily reminiscent of your local auto dealership. And from there, the consumer has a wealth of customization options, aftermarket upgrade possibilities, and access to incredible complimentary devices designed to make lives easier.
In the last three decades, a major technological revolution has occurred in the field of mobility. These advancements in technology have ushered in a massive industry for accessible transportation manufacturers and providers.
“The rise in the technological advancements has significantly revolutionized the medical assistive technologies industry,” concludes Research and Market’s industry analysis and forecast. “It is estimated that more than two billion people will need at least one assistive product by 2050.”
This demand has largely been a major boon for consumers, as the industry achieves technological breakthroughs that have greatly benefited millions of individuals in a crucial way; just think about the impact that a comfortable and capable wheelchair might make on a person who cannot walk, or the radical improvement in the life of an amputee who has latest in prosthetic technology to substitute for the lost limb.
Simply put, assistive technologies are critical to the well-being of many people, and they are being designed to integrate with the patient in a way that gives them more capabilities while also reducing the physical burdens of the user.
“People who use mobility equipment describe the freedom they feel once they receive the equipment that is right for them,” explains Disability and Health Policy Consultant Anne Cohen. “Many describe feeling like they can be more active in the community and have greater stamina for daily activities.”
It’s a wonderful time to be alive, even if you have limited mobility.
Unfortunately, it seems that modern times come with maximum complexities. And the vast options that consumers have for mobility aids are matched by the layers of intricacies that define our country’s complicated medical billing systems.
A consumer might find the perfect solution to their mobility needs, but that is only half the battle.
The bigger question remains: who is going to pay for this? And how? And what paperwork and legalese needs to be proper to make this happen?
There are few simple answers here. The process differs widely depending on the individual, their unique circumstances, the state they reside in and their specific insurance providers and/or government assistance programs.
“The process can seem complicated and sometimes you may have trouble getting approval for the equipment the first time,” added Cohen. “Many people give up too soon.”
A person’s situation can become all the more complex and riddled with legalities if their disability was a result of a workplace accident, triggering what Georgia State Bar Workers Compensation Law member Michael Dresdner calls “the ‘unique cocktail’ that is the workers’ compensation system.”
“The process of providing a transportation alternative to a person with a disability has become a complex task”, explains Dresdner. “Sometimes the outcomes do not make sense.”
It’s these nonsensical outcomes that are most frustrating for consumers and disability advocates; the technology exists to improve lives, yet the financial red tape proves to be a barrier for many who would otherwise benefit from those innovations. In particular, the complicated processes can cause major delays for individuals who suffer a sudden injury and could benefit from immediate mobility assistance.
“What makes this type of dilemma so concerning is that it starts to affect a (person with limited mobility) at the very moment of injury,” explains veteran personal injury attorney Andrew Brown, who has overseen hundreds of disability cases. “(They) don’t have time to make a plan of action before the trouble starts.”
And that right there is the trouble. For many, the circumstances that impair their mobility are sudden, and the process for acquiring the assistance they need is hardly streamlined.
Nevertheless, a bit of knowledge and the right guidance can go a long way, so here’s a basic and impartial checklist that will help you get started.