Contact: Mardi Ford
June Wilson, an occupational therapist and manager of Rehabilitation Therapy Services at Grande Ronde Hospital, has received certification as an Assistive Technology Practitioner. This certification promotes enhanced service to people with disabilities who are seeking technology applications to function in their environment, such as power wheel chairs, and safe and effective service in the field of assistive technology. Power wheel chairs can vary greatly in terms of cost and function, depending on a person’s needs and their environment, Wilson says. Prices can range from $5,000 to $25,000. Because of the expense, not just anyone can purchase a power wheel chair – Medicare may require that an occupational or physical therapist evaluate the patient first. Wilson assists about 15 to 20 power wheelchair patients each year and says that rural residents have different needs than urban wheel chair users. For instance, without the right tires, flats can be a common headache in areas where there are few sidewalks. With each new wheelchair user, Wilson spends several hours assessing the patient and their situation – from ergonomics to skill and function levels to environmental mobility issues, as well as driving lessons – services rarely offered in rural communities.
Wilson and the therapy team at Grande Ronde Hospital work closely with regional resources to provide service and maintenance to wheelchairs that are purchased locally