Numotion occasionally takes OT students for one of their field experiences. This is the first time that I have had MariaBGraduation.jpga student through Numotion. It was quite a different task to ensure that business experiences could be incorporated, compared to a traditional hospital setting, where the experience is primarily limited to clinical. I asked Maria a series of questions for her impressions of her time with Numotion.
 
How did you become interested in doing an internship at Numotion?
I became interested in doing an internship at Numotion during my first year of grad school. In my physical dysfunction class, we took a trip to the Tualatin branch to see the warehouse, look at different types of wheelchairs and briefly learn about everything that happens on the business end. I remember thinking how fascinating and exciting it would be to do an internship here and immediately asked my teacher if we could come up with a DEI (Doctoral Experiential Internship) project. The thought of helping an individual either maintain or give back their functional mobility, independence and self- esteem was such a rewarding task.  
What were your expectations coming in?
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I first started at Numotion. I thought I was just going to learn about different wheelchair options, but instead I have learned so much more. How to conduct a mat assessment, to fill out a Houston Methodist evaluation form to get the evaluation info I need, the difference between certain backs and cushions and their manufacturers, the role of an ATP, seating tech and CCC. 

Using the diary you have kept, highlight situations and/or cases that particularly moved you or that you thought were interesting or exciting, provide some examples:

maria-interview-2-(3).jpgParticular clients - The client I was working with was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome from a brain stem infarction (stroke) 20 years ago. Locked in Syndrome is quadriplegia and an inability move some of the facial muscles or to speak. He was having an evaluation for custom molding to replace his off the shelf cushion and back support due to his multiple postural asymmetries. When he arrived to clinic, I observed him using an off the shelf back rest and significantly leaning to the right. During the molding process, I noted increased postural stability and ability to sit midline, therefore, indicating a need for custom back and cushion.I had never seen someone with this diagnosis before, but watching the way he communicated with his caregiver was mesmerizing. They used the alphabet and had numbers that correlated with each letter. The caregiver would start saying the alphabet and the client would blink when it was a letter he wanted and then the caregiver would use number (I'm not entirely sure how that part worked) but they would do this until he formed a sentence and then the caregiver would tell everyone! It was amazing. I got to talk to him for a little bit, he was very funny and witty! It was fun interacting with him.

Another client that I got to work with was an older female in an assisted living facility. We (the seating tech and I) were dropping off a new basic group 2 power chair with tilt and elevating leg rests. After talking with her for a few minutes, she stated that she was having trouble seeing, making it difficult for her to see her joystick. I searched for her glasses and when that didn’t help, I asked her for a pad of paper and a thick marker so I could draw out her joystick as large as possible. She was able to see this, so I gave her a quick description of what each button did. This was a helpful adaptation as she was able to look at the paper and feel for the buttons on her joystick, and learn to use it. 

The ALS Gala - I was lucky enough to join Numotion at this year’s ALS gala in Portland, Oregon. Interacting with those affected with this disease and their families, seeing how truly inspiring and supportive this community is and being a part of giving back was a wonderful experience and opportunity. 


Do you have specific in-services by Numotion staff that were especially helpful?
I got the opportunity to sit in on many in-services during my time at Numotion. One of the most memorable and informative in-services was the 24-hour posture management set up by ATP Richard Kruse at Shriner’s Hospital presented by Lee Ann Hoffman, O.T., Numotion Clinical Educator. She allowed me to get hands on and set up a JENX Dreama bed so I would be able to make my own pros and cons list and be able to articulate this to others in the future. Not only was Lee Ann extremely nice and open to all of my questions, she has a great wealth of knowledge in this area and was able to deliver the information to all therapists in a way that was easy to understand while signifying how important 24-hour posture management is to clients. 

What are your impressions of the business aspects and how they meld with the clinical aspect to the benefit of the client?
 never realized how much work goes into the business aspect here at Numotion. Thankfully, Jessica Osborn, DSO, set up many opportunities for me to see all of the different sides of Numotion so I could get a betting understanding of the ordering process. One of the biggest take always from this experience is how understanding the business aspect can help therapists. With this knowledge, you are able to explain to your patients why it might take so long to get their chair, what might be stalling the process and what insurance is looking for and allows.  This can help create better rapport with your clients by being transparent with them and build trust that you are doing everything in your power to get them mobile as soon as you can. 

Which ATP’s did you have the opportunity to work with?
I have been very fortunate and have gotten to work with a multitude of ATPs during my time at Numotion – Robert Houston (who I worked with the most), Peter Pendergraft, Kathy Fauria, Cindy Miller (Salem, OR), Rick Kruse, as well as seating techs Steven Hart and Ryan Gobel. Everyone was extremely nice and took the time to teach me about all of the different power chairs, manual chairs, backs, cushions, accessories and insurance plans. With Robert, I did a detailed case study that will be used for the Numotion Peer2Peer website.

To complete your experience, you spent a day with a wheelchair manufacturer’s rep, Dave Knight from Permobil. Can you talk about what you did? 

maria-interview-(1).jpg I went to Community Vision’s Assistive Technology program to work on some powered wheelchair programming and programming of Bluetooth.Community Visions is an individualized support system for people with disabilities. They make it possible for those with disabilities in Oregon to live, work within their community. Community Vision partnered with The Seven Corners Community Collaborative to create a place where multiple nonprofits could co-locate to better serve the community by offering a welcoming place for individuals to come and visit, play, explore, and shop around the many different assistive technologies. Some of the buildings feature include assistive technology lab, universal design features, community conference rooms, training, and education rooms, outdoor deck, state-of-the-art kitchen, green roof, and tours highlighting accessibility features. Clients/insurance companies are not charged. It is mostly donation-based, but also provides services on a sliding scale. The Assistive Technology lab is run by Carrie Luse, OT and Kim Elliot, SLP. It was interesting to see the role of the manufacturer’s rep within the team.


 
Susan Johnson Taylor, OTR/L

Author

Susan Johnson Taylor, OTR/L

Susan Johnson Taylor, OTR/L is an occupational therapist who has been practicing in the field of seating and wheeled mobility for 35 years, primarily at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Susan has published and presented nationally and internationally, has consulted on product development for manufacturers, and has actively participated in a variety of research studies at the Northwestern Sensory Motor Performance Program. Susan is both a member and fellow with RESNA, and in the past has served on the Board of Directors. She is a member of the RESNA/ANSI Wheelchair Standards Committee and the Clinician's Task Force. Susan joined Numotion in 2015, and works with education, outcomes and clinical support.